Much has been written about the role of the CEO:  to set strategy, define culture, raise money, hire the right team, build the right product, and create competitive advantage. Harvard Business School, Bain Consulting, Peter Drucker, Jim Collins, and many others, have researched, examined and opined on the attributes they see exhibited by the best CEOs, and the resulting impact.

We have all read these books. 

Then we heard Stefania Mallet, CEO of EZCater, an Insight portfolio company, give a presentation at Insight’s 2016 Roundtable in Berlin about “Being the CEO of Growth”. Her secret is to be an enabler not a do-er, to point (while others do the work), and to build a culture of fearlessness.  Pointing requires setting direction for strategy, focus, product, sales — and then getting out of the way while better people, at product or sales execution, get on with their jobs.  A culture of fearlessness is essential because fear “slows things down” and is the nemesis of growth.

Stefania’s job description for the CEO of Growth is four-fold:

  1. Ambassador  (Think “Money”)
        The CEO is chief ambassador for customers, suppliers, employees and investors
  2. Chief Spy (Think “Pointing/ Direction”)
         On competition — for offensive and defensive reasons
         On the ecosystem — for M&A and strategic investor reasons
         On everywhere — for ideas and innovation
  3. Talent Cultivator (Think “Ability to scale”)
         Of current employees
         The hiring ecosystem to attract top-class talent
  4. #1 Cultural Icon (Think “Fearlessness”)

At EZCater, Stefanie strives to create a culture of fearlessness that fosters growth in seven ways:

  1. Aiming high
  2. Transparency and clarity
  3. Objectivity and fairness
  4. Psychological safety
  5. A bias towards action
  6. Management by reality
  7. It’s a marathon not a sprint

Read the full presentation here to get all the nuggets and more detail. 

By focusing on a few core job responsibilities, building a culture of fearlessness, and being an enabler, Stefanie has led EZCater through unprecedented growth.

Here is our challenge:  how would you rate yourself along the “fearlessness” dimensions?