One of my CEO clients uses a concept with his team he calls the “critical inch.” As he uses the term, critical inch refers to the most important contribution you make to your firm’s success. The idea: If you know and focus on your critical inch, your efforts will have the greatest impact.
I recently attended the Twin Cities Business Magazine 2016 C-Suite Strategies Forum. The four panelists included:
- Lynn Casey, CEO, PadillaCRT
- Kevin Gilligan, CEO, Capella University
- David Kvamme, Great Lakes Region President, Minnesota CEO, Wells Fargo
- Penny Wheeler, CEO, Allina Health
During the question-and-answer period following the panel, I asked all of the CEOs what they thought their critical inch was. Their responses (not in order):
- “Adding value to stakeholders.”
- “How can I make my product more affordable and drive better outcomes?”
- “(Assuring) clarity, confidence, alignment, execution.”
- “Communicating the vision and mission and explaining the ‘why’ behind big decisions in ways that connect to what makes employees proud to work for the organization.”
All of the above are great answers. That said, my favorite answer is the last of the four. To me, it captures with clarity what it means to lead an organization.
A question I am reflecting on today (and suggest you might also): What is my critical inch as CEO at this time?