What exactly does a CEO do all day I hear you ask? Well, let me tell you, it’s alot.
Last week I took part in something called a Takeover Day, it’s where some of the most executive roles at CLIC Sargent were taken over by some of the Young People that volunteer and participate with them. I was assigned as CEO for the day which was a bit surprising seen as I’m the last person you’d see chairing a meeting on a normal day, of the group doing it I’m not the loudest voice in the room so had no idea how I’d be a CEO all day but I surprised myself and I think a few others too. (Also…is it that surprising? I’m awesome!)
The day started pretty early but I set up a Facebook group chat to connect with my fellow takeover team…some I had met some I hadn’t, it was all very exciting. I did have the Director of Services for the day ask where his company car was (they don’t have company cars!) And I am still waiting for someone to nominate themselves to fetch me coffee though I have to say my assistant for the day Seren was amazing and very on the ball. Although it was quite strange to have an assistant…I was so nervous about telling others what to do or asking for things but I think I managed ok, I didn’t tell anyone to outright go away so that’s good.
As we got stuck into our roles I had almost forgotten I would be chairing a meeting and having to actually talk…there were rather a lot of people asking me various questions about things that if I am honest I didn’t really have much idea about. I really enjoyed talking to people from lots of different work areas though, it gave me a real taste of how much people look to the CEO for guidance. Media, PR and Policy chat I enjoyed, they were fab and had all the information I could have asked for to then ask them questions, I also had a chat with the Director of Finance as I was going to be talking about the financial situation of the charity in the meeting…boy was I unsure about what the hell he was talking about at first but surprisingly after a bit of a chat it all made sense (who knew I could get my head round what all those numbers meant!)
My mentor for the day, Kate Lee (usual CEO) was amazing, I couldn’t have asked for anything more, she talked me through how she would handle the meeting, what her schedule was like and how she handled all the different demands, I am so in awe of how she does it and I learnt so much from her. Getting lots of tips about how to manage different people in meetings actually really improved my confidence and it helped me begin to realise that to be a good leader, you don’t have to be the loudest person in a room, listening is often more important.
As the meeting got underway I was actually a little surprised at how incredibly well everyone did as I know how nervous we all were. I am extremely proud of my little team for everything they achieved throughout the day and the meeting was amazing, Pete (Director of Services) was on fire with his questions and I could see Dara just smiling away next to him. Libby and Aimee did so well in the delivery of their papers and it actually even got a little competitive which was fun to watch. I mostly listened and then tried to sum up and give my opinion at the end, or ask questions if I wanted to clarify anything. Rachel and Tish were amazing and I loved listening to everyone’s views. My good friend Brad (Digital Communications Manager for the day) was also fabulous and on a roll talking about his passion, social media and Wen, (Communications Assistant) wrote a perfect blog about it and was very good with her interviews (even if I did feel a bit like I was being interrogated…I don’t do interviews!)
It gave us lots to think about and I think it gave our mentors (the actual directors, managers and CEO) alot to think about too. It was a huge step forward in the charity’s participation and leadership because for the first time ever I think we all felt like we really understood some of what the roles involve but also we could show the leaders of the charity that we are capable of much more than just giving our opinion and at times sometimes a new pair of eyes on an idea is the best thing. Alot of us have got our own skills other than being cancer survivors and this is why it was so successful, because each one of us could put our own skills and passion into it and do the role our way for the day.
My feedback from Kate was incredible and if I’m honest, made me a little emotional, I hadn’t ever thought I’d be any good at it, I was even beginning to wonder if I was any good in my role as a volunteer and ambassador for the charity. I love it but I guess sometimes we all have those confidence knocks…I couldn’t have been happier with the feedback I got and it definetely solidified for me that it’s ok to be an introvert, it’s ok to be the quieter one, it doesn’t mean I have any less to input than my louder friends, it simply means that I do it in a different way. It actually worked to my advantage because I could listen to everyone’s opinions and thoughts and then summarise them.
It also taught me how strong we are as a team and I actually tasked Brad with creating us a hashtag for the day, we are one amazing team so that was our hashtag.
Being CEO for the day was so much fun and it amused me that everyone was asking my opinion as if it was important, or asking me if they could do things…it was amazing and I actually quite liked it because it meant I wasn’t nervous about speaking up. One of my friends afterwards reminded me that my opinion and thoughts are always important and none of us should think otherwise. I am so proud of each and every one of the people that took part in the day, staff included, they were so good at giving us total takeover of their roles whilst supporting and empowering us to do it the best we could.
If you’re wondering what exactly the usual CEO got up to whilst I was busy doing her job…she was drinking coffee, tweeting and just generally chilling out. (A well deserved rest!)
(Shout out to Connor too who was poorly on the day, hope you’re feeling better!)