Communication Difficult People Employee Engagement

Top Dog / CEO Beware!

April 5, 2016


Irma Parone

You are the top dog, the big bear, da man (or woman) who can make all decisions, and terminate anyone for any (except discriminatory) reason.  You decide what business to take, what requests to grant, where to spend money, what legal battles to fight or settle, who to hire and partner with, etc etc etc.

Here is the great news:  People are very willing to help you.

Yet, beware!  People KNOW you are the top dog with all of that power, so honest feedback often suffers.  Chances are you are getting a lot of fluff.

We all like people who think like us.  That’s who we naturally pull toward and use for brainstorming.  Those people, however, don’t challenge our thought process, or push us to look at different viewpoints.

If you want a team that works with you to create synergy that will drive your company forward, look for those that are willing to poke the bear.

Of course, there is another option.  We can continue to hang around with the “yes men” and risk lose of customers, destroy the faith of our BOD or shareholders and/or possibly go out of business not knowing what happened.  Yep, we could do that!

Want real feedback?  Here are a few suggestions:

1)  Seek honest feedback and mean it.  Don’t just ask a question, but rather occasionally start brainstorming efforts.  REQUIRE numerous ideas.  Provide the specific problem or idea you are asking to review, and be very specific that you want ideas to include:

a) good ideas


b) bad ideas


c) crazy ideas.

Open up their floodgates.  The more outlandish, the better.  Demand disagreement. Make it fun.  Tell the team that whoever does not participate including bad and ugly ideas will not be invited to future brainstorming sessions. Give an award for the best and the craziest ideas and maybe even a fun prize for the worst.  A friend of mine uses an official award (trophy) for the craziest, worst idea which travels from “winner to winner” each month, called the Banana Award.  Hysterical! Of course, the best also gets a WINNING traveling trophy.

Having fun is the super juice to get the most out of these sessions   Take in all the ideas. Try them on, digest them, mix them together, spit them back out, laugh, get crazy, and see what true synergy creates.  Worse case you all had a great laugh, which is one of the healthiest things you can do for your team.  I love orchestrating synergy brainstorming sessions, and you will too.  They really are fun!

2.  Be grateful for any suggestion – like it or not.  Period.  Kindness is always good, for so many reasons. No sarcasm is allowed!  And, be grateful for feedback when you don’t ask for it, yet get it anyway.

3.  For those (rare) soft spoken CEO’s are that friendly and loving  don’t be confused.  You believe your team would tell you their truest feeling about your ideas? I am sure you are quite loving, but, the scary guy/gal in that loving face of yours still appears when employees wonder how you would react with disagreement.  Especially if you have been negative even once in the past toward someone that tried to help.

There are fewer people than you think who are loyal enough to upset you.  Accept that,and get genuine feedback regardless.  You will still make the final decision, just with more options.

4.   Also look for those team members that have the dynamics/strengths that you don’t have, and make those people a part of your inner circle.

Does all of this mean we need input to make all of our decisions? Absolutely not!

You ARE the top dog, and there are decisions only you can (and should) make.

In summary, be extremely open to opposing thoughts, reach out and have fun. Also, continue to sharpen the saw as recommended by Stephen Covey.  Invest in yourself.   Study your industry.   Read.  Find a business/executive coach.  Allow yourself to be pushed outside your comfort zone.  It’s not just about advice, it is also about accountability and results.

Special thanks..

The creative DOG image was provided by Top Dog Performance – please visit their website at

About Parone Group, Executive and Business Consulting

PARONE GROUP improves the people, processes and purpose of organizations to ensure the highest quality of service for our clients and their customers.  (We can even help you facilitate a brainstorming session!)

Looking for a particular type of coach or trainer? Check with us first. We bring a wealth of experience and resources through a broad network of business professionals to analyze and resolve obstacles to success.  We work with various companies, depending on your needs, and there is never an up-charge for any outside professional we recommend.

Visit us at, or call us at 954-464-6689