Bare Bones CEO

What are the bare bones minimum tasks that only a CEO should do?

That question was raised by Procter & Gamble's CEO A.G. Lafley in Harvard Business Review. Ultimately, he says the job that ONLY a CEO can do is to link the outside world to the inside.

Lafley talked about how as CEO of P&G, he zeroed in on four areas that enabled him to make the outside to inside link. But if we really examine Lafley's critical tasks, they form a solid foundation for any type of leader in any type of organization.

Here is a repeat of Lafley's CEO mindset:

Define the meaningful outside: Determine which external constituency matters most. Not surprisingly, at P&G, the consumer is king. For some leaders, this might mean their partner community or a subset of customers, or a specific vertical or industry. Sharpen your sights and prioritize your most important base.

2. Decide what business you’re in: For example, what are your core businesses, and which of them will you grow? In 2000, P&G decided to target low-income consumers and developing markets. In today's challenging economy (and keeping an eye for the upturn), where might you refocus your organization or team efforts?

3. Balance present and future: Ensure that stakeholders’ near-term interests don’t overshadow your company’s long-term future. Sometimes in the heat of an initiative or economic event, we lose sight of long-term strategy. Keep your eye on long-term goals, and don't have knee-jerk reactions to the vagaries of short-term economics.

4. Shape values and standards: For instance, Proctor and Gamble defined trust as consumers’ trust in its brands. What's the value or principle that will guide your organization for the next 3 to 5 years? What is the emotional legacy you want to be remembered for?

These are insights into the mindset of one of American's top CEOs. No matter what your leadership position, from team manager to CXO, Lafley's advice is solid bare bones thinking to add to your arsenal of leadership strategies.