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Dear CEO, Your Organization Smells Like You

Jacob Brain


I’m sorry to say it, but all the challenges, troubles and issues that exist in your business usually come down to one thing – well, one person, really – you. Don’t try to blame the market, the customer, or the employee. It’s time we face up to the fact that everything rises or falls on leadership, and that is you. So how do you fix the top-down challenges and fix you at the same time? There is hope.

Step Back – Way Back

In my experience, the biggest challenges in growing a business are the transitions I have had to make personally in my leadership and ability to be the CEO. Having the courage to run head-on into the issues usually meant running head-on into my issues as a leader. The only way you really can achieve this is to step back- way back – from the business, and take a look at what you have created and where it needs to go.

You’ve created this company, and it’s so hard for you to see the challenges objectively, let alone be wise about the next steps. Find time to get out of the office for a few days, write down all your challenges, and ask yourself the following questions.

  • If this was someone else’s company, what would I recommend to them right now?
  • What role am I playing in this issue? Is it too much or too little?
  • What should my core role be at the company?

Get A Real Outside Opinion

A great thing I’ve done for my business was to get a coach. He was able to bring real depth to the conversation and review of my business. But the best thing was having candid feedback from other business owners in a small group. In a Proverbs 11:17 environment, we were able to shape one another in honest, transparency and care. You need someone who is courageous enough and loving enough to tell you the truth about what they see.

Crave Transparency

Once you have the outside accountability, you need the inside version called transparency. Transparency in your metrics, goals, and operational procedures will make you a healthier CEO, and a better company. Everyone needs accountability, and we need it daily to our goals and efforts. If you let your team down, they may not show it, but they know it. Make your goals as open as the rest of your team and share what is important to you and what you are working for. Don’t be the CEO in the dark corner. Share the pain and gain of running this business with them.


This is a ride of a lifetime and you’re not even close to the best part yet. Running a business has its highs and lows, and embracing the journey is a critical part of keeping your sanity. But if you want to break through and make the most of it, fix yourself. Your organization will follow.


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