The CEO Mindset vs. Employee Mindset: Which Do You Have?

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There’s something they don’t tell you when you start a business: mindset is everything. And I didn’t have the right mindset necessary to run a business when I first got started. In fact, I went along for years before I finally figured out what I was doing wrong.

Instead of forging ahead in business with a CEO mindset, I held myself back with a full-fledged employee mindset. And it was awful.

The good news is that when I discovered what the problem was, I was able to take steps to transform my mindset and become more aware of my thought patterns. I broke free from the employee mindset and stepped into the CEO mindset (keeping the employee mindset around for action items.)

So the question is: Are you holding yourself back with an employee mindset or are you forging ahead with a CEO mindset? Let’s take a look at each mindset and see how it plays out in business.

What’s the CEO Mindset?

The CEO mindset is exactly what it sounds like – it’s the thought patterns, beliefs, and behaviors that most CEOs possess. Take a few minutes to think about CEOs as a collective group. What traits, beliefs, and behaviors do they display?

When I think of CEOs, certain traits and practices come to mind. Things like strategic decision-making, allowing events to unfold before rushing into something, and listening to and asking for feedback all surface.

However, there’s one that stands out more from the crowd than the others. And this is the quality that’s most evident in the CEO Mindset. I believe the biggest factor in the CEO Mindset is the ability to see the big picture.

This is what really separates employees from CEOs. An employee is down in the trenches, where her view is obstructed. She usually can’t see past the end of her job. She knows that it benefits the company, but she doesn’t always see where the company is headed.

The CEO, on the other hand, knows exactly where the company is headed because she’s steering the ship. She has the ability to see the big picture and make long-term decisions that affect the whole organization.

So the CEO Mindset is about taking time out of your everyday business (and there are a lot of them) to take a step back and look at the long-term direction of your business. It’s about looking at the big picture and know what you’re working towards.

The CEO Mindset is very much about creating a direction and a path for your business. And while this isn’t exactly at odds with an employee mindset, having an employee mindset can make things a little more difficult.

 

"A CEO knows exactly where the company is headed because she's steering the ship."

What’s the Employee Mindset?

The employee mindset is all about focusing on the here and now, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, if you allow the employee mindset to be the driving force behind your business, you may end up with a slew of short-term plans and no business direction.

The employee mindset is really useful to have when it’s time to get down to business. If you have a client project that you need to finish or everyday business tasks that need to get done, putting on your employee cap and knocking those off your to-do list is fine. But be careful to always surface from your employee mindset.

Unlike the CEO mindset, the employee mindset doesn’t see very far. It excels most in making short-term plans and getting things done. It’s the action mindset, but action without long-term direction doesn’t do very well.

I remember another online entrepreneur asking what my 6-month plan was for my business. I “ummed” and “uhhed” my way through my answer, which was basically “book more clients”.

After our coffee chat was over, I realized – with great embarrassment – that I had no 6-month plan for my business. I had my head down and focused so much on my tasks that I didn’t take time to step into the CEO mindset and actually give my business a direction.

I was so stuck in the employee mindset that I had no idea where I wanted to be 6 months from that day.

 

"If you allow the employee mindset to be the driving force behind your business, you may end up with a slew of short-term plans and no business direction."

The Dangers of the Employee Mindset

And that leads me to the dangers that are inherent in the employee mindset. If you spend too long in the employee mindset, you risk drifting along in your business with no real direction or sense of purpose.

You’ll be just like a ship without a rudder, being blown about on the sea until you blow into a port, whether or not you want to.

These are the people who wake up one day and think “My goodness, what have I done with my life?” They were so focused on the short-term that they forgot to ask “How will this affect me in the long term?”

Think about it – what would happen to Coca-Cola if their CEO stepped down, and they replaced him with an employee at one of their many factories? The only thing is that this employee-turned-CEO, never left his job at the factory. His job responsibilities never changed.

He’s CEO of Coca-Cola and there he is on the factory floor, focusing on meeting that day’s goals, not worrying about the future of the company. I’m guess that it wouldn’t take long for the company to start falling apart, or at least lose momentum.

So while employee mindset is an important part of your business, especially if you haven’t yet hired a VA or another contractor to help out, it’s important not to allow the employee mindset to be your only mindset.

How to Move from an Employee Mindset to a CEO Mindset

The journey from an Employee Mindset to a CEO Mindset isn’t always an instant one. In fact, I can almost guarantee that it won’t be.

However, there are some steps you can take to begin to experience the CEO mindset for yourself and to bring that more into your business, especially when you begin to make long-term plans.

Set Aside Time to Plan

This may sound incredibly simple, but it’s critical that you don’t skip this step, especially if you think you’re too busy to plan (like I did). You need to clear time in your calendar to plan and look at the long-term direction of your business.

If you’re using a planner, write down exactly when you’ll be planning. If you’re on Google Calendar, block off that time and mark yourself as busy. This is incredibly important to the success and health of your business.

And the good news is that there is no right and wrong frequency when it comes to these planning/check-in sessions. You can do monthly, bi-weekly, or weekly sessions where you look at what you’ve done, what you have coming up, and how that supports your long-term goals.

Ask “How Does This Help My Long-Term Goals?”

There are so many opportunities and activities that you can do to market yourself online and to grow your business. However, not all of them are aligned with your long-term goal.

So before you take on a new project or create a new stream of income, ask how that will help you reach your long-term goal. If the answer is it won’t, then shelve that idea and come back to it another time.

Utilize the Strengths of Each Mindset

The real key is to be able to balance both mindsets and use each when you need to. If you realize that you’re drifting in your business, it’s time to put on the CEO cap and lay down some long-term plans.

On the other hand, if you realize that all you’ve done is planned and not followed through with them, then grab your employee cap. It’s time to get down to business.

Do you find that you have an employee mindset or a CEO mindset? Let us know in the comments below! While you’re at it, be sure to give us a follow on Bloglovin’ to keep up with all of our latest posts!

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