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Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Big PictureC-Suite Advisory

What Makes a Great CEO?

The Chief Executive Officer plays a critical role in any business as the highest-ranking executive and person that makes the major decisions and oversees the entire operation. It is a fantastic position to hold as it comes with a tremendous amount of power and respect not to mention the lucrative salary, but as you might expect, this is not a position for everyone as there is a tremendous amount of responsibility and it is a role that is quite unlike any other. With this in mind, it is worth outlining what makes a good CEO and, hopefully, this information will help you to find success in this powerful role.

  1. Confidence
    One of the biggest attributes that all successful CEOs have is confidence, and they will have this in abundance. Every great CEO needs high levels of self-confidence because it is down to them to make the big decisions, plus the role will involve a range of responsibilities and working with many different people, which will require confidence. While it is true that some people are naturally more confident than others, it is also something that can be developed, which can make a big difference to many areas of your life, so it is certainly worth the effort if you are currently not too confident. Additionally, it is important to note that the best CEOs are confident but not arrogant, and this is a fine line to walk.
  2. Great communication skills
    Successful CEOs also have excellent communication skills that they will need to rely on day in, day out. CEOs communicate with many different people each day and you need to be able to connect with every person, including truly listening to what they have to say. Being a good listener is an overlooked trait when it comes to leadership roles, but it can give you a much clearer insight into different areas of the business as well as help you to build stronger relationships and show that you value your employees.
  3. Ability to read people
    Leading on from this, you also need to be able to read people. As CEO, you will be working with people from many different levels and everyone will be different in terms of personalities, ideas and ways of working. The top CEOs will be able to read people and then be able to adapt their approach to each person in order to get the most out of them and to build the best possible relationships. Small things like being able to read body language and showing genuine interest in people can go a long way as a CEO.
  4. Decisiveness
    No CEO will succeed if they are not decisive as this is critical when it comes to strategy, adapting the business and moving forward. Big decisions have to be made regularly when you are at the top of the pile and often these will be difficult decisions with huge implications. A good CEO will not be afraid of making a big decision, but they will also never rush this decision and take action to ensure that it is the correct one.
  5. Critical thinking
    Following this point, critical thinking is essential for a CEO as this will help them to make the right decisions. You need to be able to gather as much information as possible through listening, observing and gathering data, and then use all of this for strategic planning and decision making. This also means having foresight and being able to prepare for different situations and outcomes so that you are always prepared and able to steer the ship in the right direction.
  6. Flexibility
    A good CEO is also one that is flexible in his or her approach. While you certainly need to be decisive and confident, you must also be willing to adapt your approach, read the room and make changes where necessary. Often, a business will be too rigid and stuck in one way of working because this is how it has been for many years. This can be problematic as it could be holding the business back, especially when you consider the new technologies available today and how they can streamline business so being flexible and willing to change is important.
  7. Ability to learn from mistakes
    When you are the person making the big decisions and actioning new projects, it is inevitable that there will be a few mistakes along the way, even if the decision was a calculated risk backed up by data. Mistakes and errors are inevitable in the business world, and every great CEO will have made a few blunders in the past, but what separates them from the rest is that they will use these mistakes as learning opportunities and not let them knock their confidence.
  8. Reliability
    While aspects like business experience and qualifications like an online MBA will always help someone to stand out as a CEO, it is also important to note that the simple trait of reliability is incredibly important. Nobody wants someone that is unreliable at the helm and it is impossible to be a good leader if people do not see you are someone that they can rely on. Being a safe pair of hands, someone that is not rash and impulsive and someone who shows up to work on time every day and performs to a high standard will always stand out to the board and instill confidence throughout the company.
  9. Integrity
    Similarly, integrity is another important characteristic that you must have if you want to be a good CEO. As the person overseeing the operation, you need to act with integrity so that the business can develop a positive reputation and so that staff can look up to the CEO and feel both inspired and well-supported. This means being honest, ethical and professional in all manners of business as well as having transparency throughout the company.
  10. A strong work ethic
    When you are the CEO of the business you will not be able to come in and slack off every day. This is because you have high-stakes work, all eyes will be on you and you will be setting an example for the entire team. Therefore, you need to have a strong work ethic if you want to succeed as a CEO and encourage employees to work to a high standard each day. While you need to have a strong work ethic, it is also important that you know when to stop working, that you take regular breaks and you are able to switch off when you are at home.
  11. An online MBA
    While there are lots of important characteristics that you will need as a CEO, you obviously also need business intelligence and the best way to learn this is with an online MBA. An online MBA teaches you everything that you need to know as a CEO, including business strategy, leadership, business communication, financial accounting and much, much more. An online MBA will also be key to stand out to board members as it is such a respected qualification and key for any aspiring CEO. On top of this, the fact that it is an online MBA also means that study is flexible and you can complete the online MBA at your own pace.
  12. Financial intelligence
    It is not much good being a great business leader if you are terrible when it comes to money management. A good CEO will always have the business’ bottom line in mind and factor this in when making any kind of strategic decision. Ultimately, you need to be able to run a profitable business, so financial intelligence and being able to work closely with accounting will be critical if you want to succeed and help the company to achieve its goals.
  13. Ability to build and develop teams
    Much like a great sports coach will struggle without a good team of players, a CEO needs to have a reliable and high-performing workforce in order to succeed. This means that you need to be able to recruit smartly and find people that will be a good fit for the business and then know how to develop this team. This will include being a good motivator, listening to your team and taking their feedback on board and helping them to develop their abilities. You should discuss with each team member what their goals and aspirations are and then help them to achieve these within the business. You will also need to create team unity through a relaxed yet productive workplace atmosphere, collaboration and team-building events and activities.
  14. Positivity
    It is sometimes overlooked, but positivity can go a long way in this role. People tend to look up to the CEO and if this is someone that has a negative vibe and is intimidating, then this will resonate throughout the company. Instead, if you are positive, approachable and open then this will have a big impact on the atmosphere as well as encourage people to come to you with ideas and questions – thus good communication is so important to success as well as for building productive relationships at every level of the business.
  15. Modern mindset
    As you will learn on an online MBA, there are many business strategies and ideas that have been around for many years and these can still bring great success, but you must also have a modern mindset to succeed. The world has changed drastically over the years which means that consumers and businesses have changed too, so you need to have a modern mindset when it comes to strategy. This will include a willingness to implement new technologies, being environmentally conscious and understanding the wants and needs of your target customer.
  16. Passion
    It is hard to succeed as a CEO if you do not have a passion for the company, its product/service and your role. This means that you need to have a clear understanding of what the MO is of the company and to create a company culture that inspires you – you need to have a strong connection to what the company is about and the people that you work with to have a passion for your work.
  17. Ability to disconnect at the end of the day
    Many CEOs struggle to switch off at the end of the day. This is understandable because it is such a demanding job and there will always be things to think about, but if you are unable to switch off then it can be mentally draining as well as have an impact on your happiness (as well as your personal life). This is why CEOs need to have a life outside of work and find ways to make the most of their time off, including leading an active and healthy lifestyle.
  18. Ability to ask for help
    Some CEOs feel that asking for help shows weakness and vulnerability, but it is actually the reverse of this that is true. You need to be able to ask for help when it is needed as a CEO and this can actually help you to form stronger connections and create the all-important team-based mentality. There is no room for ego when it comes to business and asking employees for help can help them to feel a valued member of the team and help you to build stronger relationships. This also means that you need to be able to delegate and trust your team to carry out their role without your constant supervision.

These are the main attributes that make for a good CEO. It is a combination of personality traits, qualifications like an online MBA and experience that will help you to excel in this role and while some people may seem more naturally suited to this position than others, it is also something that can be learned over time. There are few roles that are as rewarding as CEO as you play such a key role in helping the business to achieve its goals and you get to build the workplace culture, but it is also challenging, a lot of hard work and you must be willing to make the big decisions.


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Sophie Ireland

Sophie Ireland

Contributors Editor
Sophie Ireland is the Contributors Editor at for CEOWORLD magazine, where she covers hiring trends, money, the future of work, and lists and rankings, and all things related to professional success for readers. She has ten years of experience in research, spanning market research, data analytics, macroeconomics, and financial services. She can be reached on email sophie-ireland@ceoworld.biz. You can follow her on Twitter at @ceoworld.