How to Think Like a CEO


If you want to improve your project outcomes, then you’ll want to think more like a CEO than a manager, says Jennifer Bridges, PMP. Here’s how to do that.

Here’s a shot of the whiteboard for your reference!

learn how to take a leadership role like the CEO

In Review: How to Think Like a CEO

There are similarities between being a project manager and a CEO, said Jennifer. The CEO, for example, is the highest-ranking person at a company. They report to a board of directors, and they’re responsible for developing and implementing high-level strategies. Sound familiar, project managers?

You need to apply that mindset to your position and think of the bigger picture. Yes, you’re going to need to break down work to the task level, but you can never allow yourself to get bogged down in the weeds or miss opportunities.

Therefore, Jennifer suggests you do these three things:

  1. Think bigger
  2. Align your project to company strategy
  3. Become financially literate

All of these things provide you with a better perspective, so you’re not just moving one project from start to completion but seeing it in the context of the company’s strategic goals. You’ll see the benefits.

Pro-Tip: Simply put, Jennifer is talking about leadership. If you want to know some essential tips to hone your leadership skills, read this article.

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Video Transcription

Today, we’re talking about how to think like a CEO to improve business outcomes with your project. Some may find it a stretch for a Project Manager to think like a CEO, but when you look at the CEO and the Project Manager side by side, you actually see some similarities.

So the CEO is the Chief Executive Officer. They’re the highest-ranking person in the company. They report to the Chairman of the Board and the Board of Directors, and they’re basically responsible for developing and implementing the high-level strategies, and making major corporate decisions. They manage the overall operations and resources for the company, and they act as the main point of contact for communications between the Board of Directors.

The Project Manager is the highest-ranking person on the project. They report to the stakeholders and the Change Control Board. They are responsible for planning, executing, and closing the project, and making major project decisions. They manage the overall activities and resources for the project, and they act as the main point of contact and communication with those stakeholders.

So, as you can see, side by side, the CEO is thinking about the corporate status, reporting to the Board, and setting a vision for the company employees, whereas the PM, the Project Manager, is worried more about the project status, reporting into the stakeholders, Change Control Board, and the project team members.

So what does a CEO think about? They think about the bigger picture, the corporate vision, market share, market trends, competition, and where they’re going, the growth. But they need Project Managers to think more strategically.

So what are three ways you, as a Project Manager, can think like a CEO? Number one, think bigger. Think beyond your project. Think about how your project fits into the corporate vision, how market trends and world events impact not only the company but your project. Align your project to a shared company vision and help set that vision for your project team so they can understand what they’re working on not only impacts the project but the company as a whole. Invest in your financial literacy. Increase your business acumen and understanding of financial reports.

Well, what’s the benefit to you, as a Project Manager, to think as a CEO? Number one, you can have better business conversations with your stakeholders. It can help you quantify your project’s value to not only your team but your stakeholders too. And it helps you understand your project’s financials. And it also helps to enhance the confidence your stakeholders have in you as the Project Manager.

So if you need a tool that can help you think like a CEO and increase your business outcomes, then sign up for our software now at ProjectManager.

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