“It was one of the best things I’ve ever done for my own professional development and I hated the idea of keeping all the insights to myself,” he said.
“They were all kind enough to share our candid conversations so we can all learn from each other.”
One of the CEOs he spoke to was Katherine McConnell, founder of the renewable energy fintech Brighte and the 2018 Fintech Leader of the Year.
Here’s what she had to say.
I have not been CEO yet. It’s like a blank sheet of paper with a bit of impostor syndrome.
What is my job as CEO?
What does my team expect from me?
Am I good enough for this role?
Especially since the company is always changing, there is fear.
I feel very blessed and proud of this opportunity.
I read a lot of books and talk to a lot of people to learn more. Especially when I’m talking about people who are good CEOs.
I ask myself: what should I do to support my team?
As a rule of thumb, I support my team through
- sounding board for problems
- Apply the lens from different angles/areas – technical, people, development
I’m at the front of my 1:1s – do you need me to help in this area or in this area?
I am collaborative.
But I’ll certainly make the captain’s calls.
Sometimes you just need to speed up an outcome.
The team respects calls from captains, especially in difficult times.
You always doubt whether you made the right call, but you only know that later.
Historically, you look back and you get to see if you made the right one, so you gain confidence.
I have a strong executive team, so I am very collaborative. They have the floor to make decisions.
There are things you have time for. There are things you just don’t have time for.
In decisions such as layoffs or major government contracts, the responsibility ultimately falls on me. Sometimes these decisions can make you succeed or fail as a business.
When we were a smaller company, we went through a 3-4 year plan with core pillars, values, mission and annual strategy that you work towards.
We have revisited it every year. Two years ago we changed. We now have a strategy on one page.
We set pillars for the next 3-4 years. They shouldn’t change.
- North Star.
- Annual targets >> 3 targets (maximum 5) as a company
- Key results >> annual key results, reset quarterly
Below each major outcome, we have the projects that impact it. We score weekly on Fridays for each project, whether Off or On Track.
The team is also very active in commenting on the projects.
We set goals every year. But when things are fleeting, you need to change the cadence and update more often.
We now adjust the targets every quarter.
We first go through the process of setting goals as an executive team.
We were lucky enough to have an outside facilitator – Bryan Rollins from Grok, ex-Atlassian.
When we have the discussion, we always assign a “dissenter” who disputes with us what we are discussing.
Once we have alignment with the OKRs, we do the financial plan and budget. We then link the OKRs to the budget and plan.
We first determined the strategy with the leadership team and then with the heads of. Once we get their buy-in, they contribute to the formulation.
Then we communicate to the entire company. We do this through several blogs.
One exec leader is responsible for each objective. Then they tell our All Hands why it’s important.
Once the goals are launched, the teams set up the initiatives and projects. The team doesn’t have the full context, so we’re trying to provide guardrails for clarity.
Once we launch the goals at All-Hands we will do 2 week sessions to learn more about the goals and anyone can join to get more background information.
It takes us about two months from launch to finish. That’s why we do it annually because it takes so much time.
You have an owner for every purpose. It is their responsibility to communicate if something is not being achieved and why it is being blocked.
We try to separate individual performance from target achievement. Failing a goal is one thing, but we don’t link the score to their performance.
You must continuously adapt your OKR process.
Provide as much security as possible.
Sometimes you can’t give certainty.
How do you equip people for uncertainty and change?
Make people responsible, they have to take a certain level of responsibility.
Build the understanding in your team that they must contribute to the realization of strategy and work culture.