The CEO Program: Acquiring the Edge and Leading with Purpose

The CEO Program: Acquiring the Edge and Leading with Purpose

This proven, one-of-a-kind program is designed for current and aspiring leaders as well as those who want to excel with confidence and conviction in the upper echelons of executive responsibility. Do you possess the emotional and mental qualities, interpersonal skills, street-smart insights, decision-making competencies and executive presence to lead? Do you know what it really takes?

The curriculum is redesigned each year to ensure it reflects the realities of leading in a VUCA world (an environment that is non-stop volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous).

Before reading further – to confirm its value – skip to the testimonials below from recent participants.

Leaders today must know how to handle the dynamic and fluid forces impacting their business. These include changing stakeholder expectations, rapidly emerging priorities, ever-daunting risks, counter-intuitive imperatives and “black swan” events that appear largely beyond their control.

To make matters worse, most organizations simply aren’t built to innovate. In a transformative era characterized by decaying business models, transient competitive advantages, bad strategies and an unquestioning reliance on archaic management methods, a different kind of leader is required – one who is “plugged into” the future and who knows how to initiate conversations that question rather than reinforce the status quo.

The title of CEO is a misnomer. Leaders no longer execute, they decide … then they motivate others to execute. They have a different, vastly more effective way of dealing with the exponential pace of change. They know how to confront and unlock the immense, often unforeseen, opportunities that arise from turbulent and increasingly unexplainable forces impacting their business. They realize yesterday’s solutions are not just insufficient, they are counter-productive. So they “go back to school” to acquire the skills, insights and confidence to seize the white spaces of growth. They are in demand and they know it.

Leading with purpose requires the ability to build and apply one’s strategic intelligence, to prick the bubble of ignorance and anticipate career derailers, to select talent and develop a cohesive executive team, to respond courageously to unexpected high-impact surprises, to devise strategies that inform and inspire, to foster a culture of resilience and create business models that can compete for the future.

Beyond these skills, leadership today means dealing effectively with ethical dilemmas while avoiding the allure of the slippery slope, knowing how to lead people who are brighter than you, designing a smart and healthy organization, and deciding when “the game” must be retooled. Smart leaders have discovered the enlightening, if not life-altering, answers to the essential questions that determine one’s identity and therefore one’s destiny.

This practical, intensive, provocative, highly interactive, advanced program is the creation of Dr. Jim Murray who has successfully led large and small organizations in both the public and private sectors. He has a remarkable track record of helping senior executives and over 600 organizations achieve their often underappreciated potential. His life’s quest over almost five decades of exemplary practice is to liberate genius and change lives.

This program has a limited enrollment and sells out early – don’t miss your opportunity.


The best promotion we can think of is direct word-of-mouth testimonials from those who have already attended this executive development program. Here is what recent participants (with titles noted) had to say about their learning experience at The CEO Program with Jim:

  • Unlike any other leadership program I’ve ever taken. The knowledge, insights and tips I gained over three days is far superior to the six months of executive coaching I’ve received. I was engaged 100% of the time – not many speakers can do that. This course has changed my life. – CEO
  • My biggest (and favourite) take-aways were what I learned about myself. – CEO
  • You challenged my paradigms and gave me more food for thought on my road to becoming the best leader I can be. Thank you for sharing your lifetime of work and wisdom! – CFO
  • Forced me to reconsider what a leader is and should be. The volume of material is overwhelming. – Vice President
  • Made me to ask the “why?” of leadership and gave me an environment in which to be vulnerable because my stakeholders weren’t in the room. Thank you for pushing me. – President
  • The brilliant personalized view of Jim Murray, sprinkled with numerous life examples, made it measurable and convincing. – CFO
  • This was my second advanced program from you and I again walked away with this “Yes, I can” feeling. You helped me to dissolve the clouds of self-doubt. – COO
  • Solid, practical insights that opened my eyes to the skills I need to acquire – such as the need to rethink the values of my senior management team. – Director 
  • You forced me to re-evaluate my goals and aspirations. But you also gave me a guide and a starting point. Exceeded my expectations. – General Manager
  • Helped me understand what I need to work on to ensure I am a strong leader for the rest of my life. I brought up my “big issue” and the feedback was invaluable. – Acting CEO
  • The moral compass exercise gave me a needed “smack on the side of the head” and helped me confirm it’s time to formalize my role or move on. Sure made me think. Overall, great! – CFO
  • Gave me the tools I need for self-promotion, executive alignment, risk management and diagnosing organizational health to name just a few.  V.P., Finance
  • I was reminded to humble myself to think more about how people will repeat what I say or do. I am now more aware of what types of things can derail me. – Controller
  • I came wanting to know how to select my successor. I now know what to do. – CEO
  • Made me reflect about myself as a person and a leader. I’ve heard this before but never in a more meaningful manner. You held my interest for the full three days. – President
  • Gave me a better idea as to whether and why I want to pursue CEOdom. – Director
  • The course lit a fire for me – let me see how I stack up against my peers.  – CFO
  • The way you present the material makes me think. Thank you for inspiring me. – COO
  • Overwhelming!! The best insights I have received as to what I don’t know and how I need to change my way of thinking, doing and acting if I want to succeed. – District Manager
  • I came here looking for a ‘kick in the ass.’ Now I have the tools to give myself one. This “mini-MBA” has the street smarts that just can’t be taught in a regular school. – Partner
  • Your “agent provocateur” style is the right dosage for the hardwired brains of accountants. – CFO
  • You are a fantastic story teller – so many experiences we can learn from. – Executive VP
  • The interaction and debate was great. And it was a safe place to learn. – CFO
  • The challenges you framed, your stories and the thought-provoking exchanges helped me confirm my commitment to becoming CEO. – VP
  • Enabled me to meet a new group of professionals from whom I can learn and network. – CEO
  • I’ve had my eyes opened to the realities and possibilities of the CEO position. You raised my awareness of what I now need to do. – COO
  • Your eloquence, experience and insights showed me a living example of how to challenge the status quo as well as myself. – Controller
  • Thank you for shining the light into the dark corners, and around some blind ones, on the role of the CEO. You helped me see the path forward more clearly. – CFO
  • Your experience and directness has ignited a passion in me to utilize the tools and grow strategically. You’ve encouraged me to take more risks and reach. – Ass’t VP Finance
  • A remarkable and amazing four days! I really enjoyed it. – VP, Finance


Through lectures, case studies, quizzes, shared executive experiences and personal guidance, participants can be assured their specific challenges, issues and questions around organizational concerns and personal interests will be addressed. The program requires pre-course work involving self-assessment and diagnostic tools as well as case preparation and readings on topics to be covered in greater depth. Pre-course materials are received about a month prior to the program. In-class sessions run from 8:30 to 6:00 p.m. and evening activities include hospitality, R&R, networking and a few course-related tasks.

The learning format is practical, reflective of the latest research, and highly interactive. The depth and breadth of participant experiences – an executive audience – is one of the primary benefits of attending this program. The following is an outline of the (half-day) sessions and topics to be addressed in the current edition. Additional subjects are covered in supplemental notes and the instructor is receptive to any topic of interest or concern to attendees.

The Opportunities and Realities of CEOdom

  • Introductions, objectives, methods, premise, outcomes and caveats
  • Lesson #1 – The reasons why CEOs get the axe
  • The seven principles of dealing with complexity, volatility and unknowns
  • The difference between “the good” and “the very best” CEOs
  • What you need to know to define your unique leadership identity
  • The uncomfortable truths and other gritty realities of being the top dog
  • The land mines and derailers that will disqualify you as a leader

The Challenges of Leadership

  • Leadership in the C-suite: What it is and what it is not
  • The critical intelligences that separate leaders from pretenders
  • Achieving CEO and organizational clarity: The leader’s mantra
  • Leader or manager: Defining the CEO’s role and purpose
  • Systems thinking, operational insight and strategic foresight
  • Understanding organizational DNA: The critical ‘genes’
  • Developing strategic intelligence, foresight and symbiosis
  • The CEO’s primary role in ensuring organizational success
  • Rethinking strategy: Current reality and fatal assumptions
  • Avoiding bad strategies and reordering the business agenda
  • Getting started: What to do (and how) in the first 100 days
  • Diagnosing the health and savvy of your organization

The Ingredients of Leadership

  • The CEO Entrance Exam: The 31 questions you need to answer
  • Making the right choices: Time and energy audit
  • The critical determinants of your leadership potential
  • Realistic self-assessment: Do you have what it takes?
  • The CEO map: Leading others where you want to go
  • Setting your compass: The non-negotiable rules
  • Connecting: Building networks and getting advice
  • Power, politics and intelligent self-promotion
  • Reconciling the paradoxes of being the top dog
  • Self-motivation and willpower: Sustaining the drive
  • Achieving mindfulness: Dealing with the ego traps

Perfecting the Critical Skills

  • The biggest challenge in building a cohesive executive team
  • Identifying the people you want (and need) on your team
  • Are “inner circles” advisable? How to make them work
  • What makes a great EA and what to tell him / her
  • Vision, values and rules: Misunderstood and misused tools
  • Building the culture you want and that people understand
  • Leading really bright people who are smarter than you
  • Keeping your high-impact performers happy and in check
  • Developing a symbiotic relationship with your Board
  • What a good board looks for in monitoring CEO performance

The CEO as Chief Decision Maker

  • The five ingredients of effective decision making
  • Fatal flaws and traps that confound every decision maker
  • The bubble of ignorance: Why it exists and how to escape
  • Blind spots and ego traps that put you in the bubble
  • The “CEO effect” and the elements of good judgement
  • The key decision domains that will make or break you
  • Why bad decisions are inevitable and how to avoid them
  • The primary sources of risk in the C-suite today
  • The echo chamber and the CEO’s Achilles’ heel
  • Ten tools that enhance decision making and accountability
  • Dealing with experts: The errors and traps to avoid
  • The questions you must ask before you decide what to do
  • Risk intelligence, analysis, measurement and framing
  • How culture induces risk intolerance and the antidotes
  • Why risk management capability fails: A classic case study

Building Organizational Resilience

  • Dealing with crises and forecasting high-impact surprises
  • Building smart organizations: What every CEO must know
  • Fostering a culture of innovation by embracing intelligent failure
  • Business model transformation: Drivers and avenues to success
  • The ingredients, caveats and process for achieving organic growth
  • Ten strategies for growing your business in a hyper-competitive world
  • The how and why of building partnerships and strategic alliances
  • What ultimately constrains organizational performance today
  • Why game changing is the new constant in unpredictable times

The Ultimate Responsibilities of Leadership

  • Ethical dilemmas: Navigating the tricky slippery slope
  • Knowing and embracing the highest calling of leadership
  • Why mentor or coach: Purpose and process
  • Succession planning: How to find the next CEO
  • What you can’t be taught but must learn for yourself
  • Revisiting the map: Destinations worth considering
  • Five critical questions you must answer to lead others
  • The ten things every CEO needs to know to survive
  • What “leading with purpose” now actually means