How CEOs Can Foster Autonomy and Drive Performance

Premierehire Executive search and leadership strategies

Leadership expert, Daniel Marcos, CEO of Growth Institute, recently shared his insights on 6 keys to effective leadership that a CEO must focus on.  These keys emphasize the importance of empowering teams to drive performance:

1. Leadership Beyond Operations:

While many CEOs can detail their operational, financial, and hiring systems, few can clearly define their leadership system. Just as we prioritize structures in our businesses, leadership development must also be systematic and intentional.

2. Well-being as a Foundation:

Marcos emphasizes the significance of personal well-being. A CEO’s balanced life serves as a mirror for the company culture. When leaders are grounded and balanced, they’re better equipped to strategize and execute. It’s not just about business performance but setting the right example for the entire organization.

3. Building Autonomous Teams:

One of the most significant keys to effective leadership is creating a team that can function and innovate without constant supervision. Instead of mapping out a strategy and then fitting a team into it, Marcos advises leaders to build the right team first. When the right team is in place, they will help shape and lead the right strategy.

Crucial to the team functioning effectively is mutual trust and agreement on how they will build strategy, solve problems, and make decisions. To support this a leader can help the team set the guidelines, develop a good structure, ensure clarity in roles and decision-making authority, then step back but stay engaged as a mentor and coach.

4. Crafting an Intentional Culture:

Peter Drucker’s famous quote, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”, is still true today.  The daily atmosphere in the workplace, team dynamics, and how employees feel about their roles play a significant role in defining a company’s culture.

Marcos emphasizes that CEOs should be proactive in shaping this culture rather than leaving it to evolve on its own. I would add that proactive elements include role modelling, onboarding and training, reinforcement of valued behaviors, coaching and mentoring, regular development reviews, and ongoing professional development. One tool our clients use to help teams find alignment and understanding on different perspectives (necessary for good decision-making but also the basis for conflict) is Stop Guessing for Teams. Personal insights are shared and compared in micro team sessions to improve communication and comradery.

5. Investing in Employee Growth:

Just as leaders seek continuous personal and professional development, the same should be offered to their teams. When a company is still budding, hands-on management might be the way but as it grows, CEOs need to transition into coaching, and help their leaders be effective coaches and team leaders as well. A CEO must ensure that their layers of leaders have the necessary skills and knowledge to push the company vision forward. Scaling this to the front line is also key.

6. Alignment is Key:

Ensuring everyone is on the same page is crucial for scalability. Marcos outlines that CEOs must invest time in clear communication, routinely checking in to ensure all are aligned with the company’s mission and vision. The role of a CEO evolves from micromanaging in the startup phase to steering the ship and ensuring everyone is rowing in the same direction in a larger organization. This is where alignment of values and goals is key together with easy to maintain and measure KPIs or OKRs for every layer and team.


Marcos provides a 6 point map that a CEO must focus on to ensure he or she is an effective leader. It is not just about recruiting great players but ensuring they play cohesively as a unit and build the strategy and culture where people will innovate and thrive.

The transition from a startup entrepreneur to a CEO of a growing company demands a shift in leadership style. Focusing on the above elements will help a leader foster environments where teams can independently drive growth and not be limited by the CEOs mindshare and capacity.

If you would like to learn how to accelerate your team’s autonomy and performance please book a no obligation consult call with me.

Marcos, D., (June 27, 2023), The Most Rewarding Investment of your Time: Building a Winning Team, (,

The Author

Leanne Abraham helps leaders and teams reach higher levels of performance and fulfillment in their work.

Leanne serves as an executive & team coach, facilitator, leadership trainer, and talent advisor. Her coaching, tools, and proven processes elevate organizational health, growth, and transformation to attract great people and build great places to work because ‘people are the point’.

She and her team also help organizations find and retain top people with their 4 Phase Executive Search and New Leader Integration Solutions.

Leanne has over 25 years of executive leadership experience and is a certified executive and team coach (EMCC). She is a certified coach for Birkman Leadership and Career Assessments and has extensive training with the Adizes Institute for Organizational Transformation, Robbins Madanes Intervention coaching, the European Mentoring & Coaching Council (EMCC), and the Global Team Coaching Institute (GTCI). She also has a degree in Psychology and a Masters in Business from UBC.

Leanne serves clients throughout the US and Canada, ranging in size and industry.

If you are looking to elevate your team, your leadership, or your career, please send an email or book a complimentary consult.

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