It’s one thing to know that you’re in manager mode, but another completely to begin the growth process. Becoming CEO is a mindset shift, absolutely, but it takes strategic and intentional action to get there. Let’s work through a few major things that could be holding you back, keeping you stuck working in manager mode while CEO-status remains worlds away.
Okay, let’s be honest. It’s much more comfortable to work in manager mode, isn’t it? It’s far more comfortable to work, work, work in your business instead of casting a scary vision, asking for help, and doing the mindset work required to become CEO of your business. Right?
When you stay in manager mode, you don’t have to be vulnerable. You don’t have to put your big goals and dreams on paper and into practice. You don’t have to hold yourself accountable or push yourself to tackle things you’ve never done before.
But, here’s what I’ve learned. Your business will never grow sustainably if you stay there.
You Can’t Be Both Manager AND CEO
While every business needs both a CEO and a manager, it can’t afford to have one person executing both roles for very long. The two roles conflict with each other and steal from the other’s effectiveness (keeping you running in circles, chasing to-do’s endlessly).
Business owners who are both CEO and manager often find themselves distracted, stressed, and disconnected from what matters most. This causes them to come home at night exhausted, unable to give their family their best.
Business owners who are both CEO and manager tend to function within a scarcity mindset:
They are forced to think small because they have a limited, “in the weeds” view of the business
They don’t take risks because their view is too limited and they can’t afford to fail right now
They think there is never enough money, clients, or time
They focus on what isn’t working and how things are going wrong
They are reactive to situations and problems that arise, not proactive
Every business needs a manager — they handle important work to tactically move the business forward. But it is not the CEO's job to be the manager.
Managers function best when paired with a CEO — this is the dream team. CEOs, as we are about to learn, have the big vision for the company and the manager brings it to life.
CEOs draw the map, and managers lead the crew and steer the ship. Without the map, the manager doesn’t know where the ship is going or how to direct the crew. Without the manager, the CEO can’t always effectively and efficiently get from point A to point B.
Are you a meant-to-be-CEO working as a manager? The answer is yes if you believe — you know — down in your bones that the work you are doing is important and NEEDED, but you are so in the weeds that you are distracted from the greater picture and mission of what you started. If you are ready to work ON your business and not IN your business, it’s time to become CEO.
What are the consequences of staying rooted in manager mode?
To put it bluntly, you’ll likely go nowhere. You’ll stay stagnant. Sure, you can get new clients and money may be coming in, but at some point, you’ll plateau. You’ll feel like you’re on a treadmill, like you can never get above water.
And it won’t just be your business — it’ll affect your life. You probably didn’t start this thing to be chained to your desk and to have it on your mind 100% of the time.
When you make the shift, you’ll be able to step away from the work and breathe. You’ll know you have systems and processes in place, and you’ll trust them. You’ll have a marketing engine running without your foot constantly on the gas pedal.
And maybe you’ll even have key team members running parts of your business while you jet set to Cabo. Or, actually, maybe now you’ll simply be able to make it to your kid’s school performance and — for the first time ever — leave your phone in the car.
Moving from manager to CEO affords you the lifestyle you crave. And no, I don’t mean the high-rolling kind of life. I mean a life overflowing with connection to the people you love. A life of freedom to be completely present for those who matter most to you.
Moving from manager to CEO affords you the lifestyle you crave. It gets you off the treadmill and on the trail.
And, please, don’t get me wrong. The CEO still hustles. This isn’t about getting out of the work, the strategy, the planning.
This is about getting off the treadmill and on the trail. You have places to go, movements to create, a message to get out into the world. Your energy needs to be spent on the work that takes your heart and soul to create, not the work that drains your heart and soul.
So, can we agree that manager is not where we want to be all the time and CEO has a much better ring to it?
It’s time to figure out what’s holding you back.
Take a step as CEO:
Take a minute to reflect and journal about what staying in “manager mode” is potentially costing you and your business. What are all the things you’re doing that could be handled — and handled just as well — by someone else, and what opportunities for growth is all this task management stifling?
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As I’ve grown my business over the years from a virtual assistant agency to a full-force business management and marketing agency, I’ve learned that there were a few things holding me back from fully becoming the CEO I dreamed to be. Becoming CEO required a brand new way of thinking than I was used to, a mindset shift — a big one.