The chief executive officer, also known as the CEO, is the leader of the company and sets the strategy, culture, and vision of the company. He/she handles the overarching functioning of the company and is credited with the success or failure of the company. The CEO is the head of the C-Suite, or the team of executives, which includes the Chief Operating Officer, Chief Marketing Officer, Chief Technology Officer, and the Chief Financial Officer, for example. Each plays a different and vital role in the running of the company.
For many ambitious professionals, becoming the chief executive officer is the pinnacle of their career aspirations. While starting your own business or climbing the corporate ladder of someone else’s company can give you the title of CEO, embodying a CEO takes an amazing leader. So much more than “calling the shots”, the CEO is responsible for inspiring the entire company, earning respect, and helping others realize their potential so they can provide their best work to the company. A CEO’s ability to inspire their company leads to loyalty in their employees, trust from their customers, and investments from their shareholders. But, what are the traits of a CEO?
Let’s explore six of them.
Passion is the foundation of the best CEOs. They are not driven by money, fame, or prestige, but a profound connection to their vision, mission, and goals. Often, they use the majority of the income to further their vision and create innovative products. This is a crucial component because, with passion, it may be impossible to understand how, why, and for whom the company is run. Without a passion for the company’s mission, there will be no dedication to its success and if the CEO doesn’t believe then how can he/she help anyone else believe. If you find your passion waning, look back at all the reasons you began your company and re-connect with your vision.
A company is nothing without vision. Nothing without the visionary to lead it into the future. Building a company is all about what it can be, not what it started as. An excellent CEO is able to manipulate what is there into what can be. What is possible? What has been done and can be improved? What can be invented that has never been? Like Steve Jobs or Elon Musk, not only must a CEO have the vision, but they must be able to communicate that vision to motivate and inspire others to contribute to the company’s success. They must have the ability to transfer their passion and vision into easy-to-understand concepts that everyone can relate to.
How can you improve your vision? Surround yourself with CEOs or leaders-in-training who have huge visions and make you feel inspired. If they can inspire you, then you are around the right people.
#3 GRIT, COURAGE, AND FLEXIBILITY
Cultivated by practicing leadership, executive coaching and input from employees, board members, and shareholders, a CEO develops skills such as grit, courage, and flexibility. While you may have the material to be CEO, these skills must be updated to ensure you are being the best CEO you can. Whether you are taking ownership of another company or starting your own, the vision of the company should be evident in your actions and words. When situations arise your actions can effortlessly speak louder than your words, so you will always want these two aspects to match.
#4 BE DECISIVE
Great CEOs have a combination of vision, the ability to build a culture, and strong communication, but another trait is decisiveness. For a CEO, this doesn’t mean making a decision and then when questioned, pulling out the CEO card, no, it’s about gathering as much information from as many different sources as possible and making a decision that will be best for the company. Effective CEOs gather highly-skilled advisors, employees, and other upper-level executives so they can have a pool of great minds to learn from. Great CEOs do not make decisions without input or stubbornly believe their way is the only and best way. They ask for the feedback and suggestions of others because their ultimate goal is to find the best way to do something.
They are very aware of their limits in time, knowledge, and resources, so they elicit and listen to varying points of views, encourage open dialogue, and gather information that can be used to make the tough decisions. A CEO is the ultimate servant of their company. He/she must be selfless because the company’s success, its employees, stakeholders, and customers, depend on the CEO’s ability to see all sides.
#5 SELF-CONFIDENCE WRAPPED IN VULNERABILITY
As you rise in the hierarchy of a company, you are given more influence and your decisions reach farther. CEOs must possess the self-confidence and intelligence to gather the brightest in their fields in order to gather information that has been mastered. Without this, making informed decisions on the behalf of the company will be impossible. Great CEOs gather well-trained and knowledgeable human resources to access a vast library of knowledge.
#6 A HISTORY OF HIGH POTENTIAL AND PERFORMANCE
As CEO, you are called on to make the tough decisions, and to perform at a high level, consistently. In addition, the desire to take on challenges of increasing difficulty is necessary as the foundation of the company rests on its CEO. If this high potential and performance have not been a reality for you, that doesn’t mean you can’t be a CEO. You can cultivate this skill through behavioral changes that are spurred on by mindset changes.