How to be a BAD ASS CEO

There’s a tremendous number of good leaders out there. There’s also a lot of ‘exceptional’ leaders. But there’s just a handful of totally BAD ASS leaders. I’m talking Hugh Jackman as Wolverine bad ass. Richard Branson, Clint Eastwood, Evel Knievel, Satya Twena, Pierre Trudeau or Daniel Craig – that kind of bad ass. No obstacle gets in their way.

Bad Ass leaders have a depth that is developed from their own self awareness. Think about that for a minute, bad ass comes from self awareness. We often equate bad ass with total renegades, but I would counter that total bad ass is being so self aware you are able to sense what you are not addressing. To be totally bad ass you need to be incredibly self aware, literally know what you don’t know. It’s not that you actually know what you don’t know, but you certainly sense it.

“Studying ourselves can replace all the books in the world” Pema Chodron

It’s not easy because you need to build a team more capable than yourself to execute, wrap as many resources around that team and focus on keeping everyone aligned and informed. What ever type of leader you are, startup CEO, mayor of a booming city, dean of a business school or a chef leading a team of 25, you’ve got a job that requires somewhere around 136 different duties and things you need to make decisions around. But if you can master just five major competencies you can get to BAD ASS and I’m talking Jay Z BAD ASS.

The five competencies necessary for you to be BAD ASS

Momentum, focus and tough decisions

• You are often misunderstood and unapologetically so, not everyone agrees with you
• You recognize that the obstacle is the way and head directly into the storm because what stands in the way is the way
• You continually remind your team of their focus to ensure a consistent momentum towards your mission
• YOU set the pace, you demonstrate incredible hustle and focus
• You make decisions that not everyone will agree with, often along a path of resistance

Truth goes through three stages.
First it is ridiculed.
Second it is violently opposed.
Finally it is believed as a self evident truth.

Recruitment and Engagement

• You understand recruitment is an on going process, not an occasional event. You know who you want on on your team next year and ten years from now.
• You find the most talented people based on cultural fit, who can have impact across your organization
• You create an engaging environment in which people feel heard, challenged & are emotionally connected back to the organization
• You catch people doing things right more often than wrong, small pats on the back
• You foster a safe environment of transparency and accountability

“It’s harder to be kind than clever. There is a difference between gifts and choices. Cleverness is a gift, kindness is a choice. Gifts are easy — they’re given after all. Choices can be hard. You can seduce yourself with your gifts if you’re not careful, and if you do, it’ll probably be to the detriment of your choices.” Jeff Bezos


• You step back and work ON the business, not only IN the business. You control your day with precision and discipline
• You develop long term vision and mission for your business, for your school, for your city.
• YOU determine what markets to go after and develop the strategy to win in those markets
• You are the model for being laser focused because you recognize failure is the corresponding result of a lack of focus

Deal Maker and Chief Revenue Officer

• You are a charismatic negotiator using a win-win approach, understanding that someone else’s win today can very likely be yours in the future
• You own the development and maintenance of important partnerships and relationships
• You are intimately involved in the development of the go to market strategy and processes around growing revenue or membership or what ever the key organizational metric is

Accountability and Metrics

• You establish a metrics driven culture based on transparency and accountability
• You employ radical candor which is accepted because you have consistently demonstrated how much you care about individuals
• You create and maintain alignment between all facets of the business

“Bad Ass leaders have simply formed the habit of doing things average leaders don’t want to do”