Mistakes a boss must not make
First, you must be self-confident confident. Any given moment your employee must know that you are in control, that you know what you are doing and that you are able to make a decision. Any hesitation in decision making will shake your employees' confidence in you. If you repeat that, if you show that you are not able to make a decision when it should be made, you are on the right path to lose all respect in your company.
There are situation when you don't have much information and you must make an educated guess but it's your job to act as a leader with no fear. As someone said, I believe it was Jack Welch, "Fifty percent of my decisions was bad." You are in exactly the same position: you will make mistakes along the way but you must act with no hesitation.
If you are not experienced CEO write "When the going gets tough, the tough get going" on your wall because that's a very good motivation for tough times.
Then, you should always be fair. Just recall the old saying about your teacher from the school "She's tough, but fair". After that that's usually "She is a very good teacher." Do you see the point? If you must fire someone, fire the person who deserve that. If you can reward, reward someone who deserve the reward. .
Help your people any way you can but, teach them, talk to them, but when times demand you must be tough. Ask a lot, strive for perfection and don't be satisfied with mediocre results - and make anyone know that good results will be rewarded and under-performing will be punished.
Treat people differently. We admit, that may sound strange at first but you have different personalities in your organization and you must be a shrink sometimes (yes, that's also your job as a CEO). When you have a true business star, someone who says "OK, tell me what to do and leave me alone," and when that person brings you a million dollar job - do not manage it, leave it alone.
Remember, there are people who are not team players yet they can achieve spectacular results. In that case the best management is to get out of their way and let them to their job.
In the other hand, there are employees who need more guidance, they need a team, a little bit more conversation... They should receive that. To perform well somebody needs "OK", another employee needs "Very good job!", and another likes to hear "Spectacular! That's just spectacular!" Different people need different approaches and your job is to recognize their needs and fulfill them. It's not a good idea to leave that just to your HR department, you must be actively engaged in motivation.
And for the end: "No retreat, no surrender!" When your company is in crisis the worst thing you can is do is to step back. If you - CEO - leave tough problem to your staff you can be sure that a) your company is in deep problems and b) you are not perceived as a leader anymore.
When the company is on the brink of a disaster you must act decisively, you must take control and lead your people like you are in war. Just remember businessmen who got out of Chapter 11 several times and you'll know what we mean. ■