April 6

The CEO Radar: mapping the six areas of CEO mastery

The CEO role is demanding and often exhausting. There are many stakeholders who demand attention, pressures are high, there’s a sense of isolation, and the available workload far exceeds any individual’s ability to deliver.

The risk, then, is that the CEO becomes subject to tunnel vision - focused on one or two pressing topics based on “who’s shouting loudest” at any one time.

How can the ambitious Chief Executive step back from the daily demands of their role and identify where their unique contribution as CEO will create the most value?

Well, we have a tool for that.


Introducing The CEO Radar

The CEO Radar is a simple framework we developed at Xquadrant, that visually maps the essential areas that every CEO is ultimately uniquely responsible for. It allows top leaders to quickly scan their stakeholder environment and make sure they are attending to the most important areas.

In our CEO coaching work, we use The CEO Radar on a regular basis (along with a proprietary questionnaire that quickly allows the CEO to assess their current situation on each dimension and set priorities accordingly).

CEO Radar

We developed the “CEO Radar” tool as a practical instrument to help CEOs focus on what’s truly important. It builds on both on our own work with top CEOs worldwide, and inspired by extensive research from global consulting firm McKinsey & Co. (e.g. in their CEO Excellence book) and other business thought leaders and publications (most notably Harvard Business Review). We’ve sharpened up the academic research to make an action-focused reminder of what should be on the radar of every ambitious CEO.

The CEO Radar in detail

Let’s briefly review the six main focus areas that are embodied in the CEO Radar.

Clarify Ambition

The whole organisation looks to the CEO for clarity and hope. This starts with inspiring the organisation with a bold and meaningful vision that genuinely excites people. Once this is defined, top CEOs boldly pursue the strategic moves that will truly move the needle for the business. And they ensure the resources of the organisation are aligned to the strategy, with the right investments occurring in the most promising areas.

Align the Organisation

Top CEOs give people issues more than lip service, realising that leadership and culture are the keys to unlocking progress. They personally embody and spearhead cultural change, ensure the organisational design is both efficient and effective, and ensure that there is a strong leadership bench, with the critical leadership roles filled with top leaders.

Mobilise Leaders

The CEO is ultimately responsible for the leadership culture of the business. To create value in this area, set a high bar for what great leadership looks like, create an executive team that’s a cohesive “superstar team” (focused on shared goals) instead of a “bunch of superstars”, and ensure that leaders operate within effective decision-making structures that drive results.

Engage the Board

The board can be an incredible asset to the CEO, or a source of frustration and conflict. To harness the board effectively, CEOs need to build trusted relationships with the directors, enhance the overall contribution of the board, and ensure board meetings are properly focused on the future development of the business.

Represent the Business

The CEO is the face of the company to key external stakeholders: customers, partners, regulators, and society at large. The influence that the CEO wields in the external world creates a huge leverage effect for the business. Top CEOs are clear in the social purpose and mission of the business, are able to effectively engage and align their top stakeholders, and respond appropriately when unexpected events and crises force the business into the limelight.

Lead Effectively

There are high expectations placed on the CEO, and it’s important for every leader to manage their personal energy and effectiveness. This involves ensuring time, energy and attention are focused on what’s truly important, demonstrating the personal integrity and magnetism of a great leader, and keeping a humble, grounded perspective despite the adulation and perks of the CEO role.

"The CEO is ultimately responsible for the leadership culture of the business. To create value in this area, set a high bar for what great leadership looks like."

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Does the CEO Radar create distraction, or focus?

At this point, I appreciate that it can all seem overwhelming. Six major areas of focus, and eighteen sub-areas? Isn’t this a recipe for diluted focus and failure?

No, it’s actually a recipe for focus and success. These broad areas have been validated time and time again in research, but there are two things to bear in mind.

  • Firstly, all of these areas do require your attention, but not all of them will require your prioritisation at any one time. The key is to properly think through what are the most strategic levers available to you right now, and compare those with what feels important.
  • Secondly, it is an extensive and daunting list! That’s why the CEO role isn’t easy. And it’s why you need to create strategic time and extract yourself from operational issues and lower-level meetings, so that you can work on the topics that properly deserve your CEO focus.

So, used well, the CEO Radar becomes an incredible focusing tool that keeps you operating at the right level, instead of putting your attention on areas that are properly the responsibility of other executives.

Using the CEO radar to maximise your impact

To practically use the CEO Radar tool, I recommend you very simply assign a ‘stretch level’ against each of the 18 sub-areas on the CEO Radar.

Give each area a score from 0 to 5, where 0 means that you are perfectly happy with this aspect of the business right now, and where 5 means that improving this area will be incredibly impactful.

Once you’ve done that, work through the practical implications of what you’ve found with your CEO coach. Ask yourself: what shifts will progress in these areas require from you: in your strategy, in your mindset and in your CEO skillset.

Take our full CEO Radar assessment, with our compliments

If you’re currently in the Chief Executive role and running a substantial business, and if you’d like to create a personalised action plan using the CEO Radar, we’d be open to offering you access to our full diagnostic assessment.

It takes about 10 minutes (there are 72 multiple-choice questions). We’ll then find some time to take you through your personalised findings and help you build a plan, no strings attached.

Please use the form below to apply for a complimentary CEO Radar assessment:

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