Why the Best CEOs Do ‘Less’

February 28, 2018 By Dave Chase

As I exited a youthful mindset and began to mature in my thinking about life (read: life wasn’t always about me) I had a few key realizations.  These realizations have helped me remove the clutter of life & career, which have enabled me to focus.  The real power of focus is that our energy is funneled to a point and becomes singularly focused on the task at hand.  This is far more effective than being spread broadly.


The first came when I began to realize the boasting of how busy I was didn’t really matter to anyone, but was in fact, a statement of my inability to focus on what really mattered in my life.  It came as such a shock as the realization came.  I wish I could say I was immediately healed of the malady, but it did come gradually as my mindset continued to mature.


A second important milestone was when I realized the simple pleasure of decluttering.  The principle and freedom of ‘liberating’ a physical item from my possession each time I brought something new home was amazing.

It’s taken me many more years, and ongoing insights and reminders, to apply both of these principles to the less tangible pursuit of simplicity in my life and business.  However, applying it to the busy-ness of life and my business, are far more powerful and liberating.


Greg McKeown, the author of Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, is my favorite thinker on the subject.  His relentless proclamations of simplification are music to my ears.  The book itself has become one of my favorite business and life books and the principles he reminds me of have been remarkably liberating.  The piece he recently authored in HBR.org was yet another reminder, and a nice summary, of these important principles.

Perhaps paradoxically, if you’re looking for the ability to do more and to become more, there is no better starting point than simplification and focus.


I was reminded of the practical application of this when I read “How the Best CEOs get the Important Work Done”, another HBR article written by James Allen.  He fundamentally simplified the work of the CEO into 4 things:

“communication, communication, communication, and overseeing resource allocation to ensure that the priorities they’re communicating are actually the ones getting funded.”

Much of the rest of a CEOs workload can be delegated or eliminated.  Great CEOs do indeed stay focused on developing, communicating and ensuring the company strategy is executed.

David ChaseManaging Partner at Advanced CFO, has experience in small to medium private companies and large public companies as a senior operational and financial leader.  With nearly 20 years in finance, a CFO of multiple entities and divisional EVP experience, Dave has a breadth of experience.  Dave has led or been instrumental in raising multiple rounds of equity and debt in excess of $0.5 billion.


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