Becoming a CEO takes hard work and dedication. It isn't for the faint of heart. However, it seems once the magical title is bestowed upon someone, they can forget a lot of traits they admired in their successor.
Effective leadership is the most important aspect of a company and its team's success. But what makes a leader effective? A CEO must possess these certain traits to truly become a great leader:
1. Ability to learn from the past
A CEO must have the ability to learn from past experiences and instill lessons for the future. CEOs are only human. Mistakes will happen, but it's important that a CEO learn from them to prevent them from happening again. For example, if a CEO didn't have an effective crisis management system in place when a situation arose, he or she should learn what they need for future reference and be able to build a plan based on what went wrong the first time.
2. Strong communication skills
As a leader, a CEO needs strong communication skills. Communication is key in any setting and as someone in charge, a CEO must learn how to communicate effectively to boost moral when necessary. From motivating his or her team to completing projects in a timely manner, a CEO must be able to communicate what they need, from whom, when they need it by and how things should be done. According to a Navalent study on Developing Exceptional Executives, "Top executives are consistently transparent and balanced in their communication. They effectively translate their view of business potential and challenges, as well as expectations for action using succinct, direct and readily understandable language in doses that are easily digestible. They devote time to their connections."
3. Building relationships
A CEO must have the ability to build relationships with clients and coworkers to be successful. Relationships create loyalty and an image for the CEO and the company. Positive relationships also create great word-of-mouth, and while your business may not run solely on that type of marketing, it's always a plus.
4. Realistic optimism
It's important for a CEO to be confident, but not arrogant about their skills and what they offer their employees. They should remain aware of and confront challenges while still striving to reach audacious goals.
A CEO must be understanding of matters in and out of the workplace. Employees are people with lives outside of work, and if there's an emergency, a CEO should be understanding and let the employee handle it. The risk of making mistakes is far greater if an employee is working and focused on other things. A CEO must also understand things happen out of anyone's control. In sales, sometimes a customer can suddenly change their mind. A CEO must understand and accept the situation and handle things accordingly.
6. Listening skills
The same Navalent study mentioned above states, "Top executives are distinguished by the consistency with which they listen to, and actively seek out the ideas and opinions of others. They incorporate other views into their plans to solve organizational problems." A good CEO must have the ability to listen attentively. Not every idea a CEO has is going to be a good one, and not every direction is the right one. When a CEO can listen and seek the ideas of trusted individuals, the team and company is more likely to be successful.
7. Willingness to take calculated risks
Great, and sometimes unforeseen opportunities often come from taking risks. Taking calculated risks shows confidence and helps you grow as a business leader. Often times, risky decisions may take you on a new, important path. Success won't be handed to you on a silver platter. Embracing risk also helps you overcome the fear of failing.
8. Reading people and adapting to necessary management styles
One of the greatest traits a CEO can have is the ability to read people and adapt management styles accordingly. Not everyone has the same learning style and if you want your company and your employees to succeed, it's important to be able to adapt to the needs of your employees.
9. Coaching employees effectively
As the head of a company, you are creating a healthy and collaborative work environment. You are not only preparing the next generation of your company but the next generation in your line of work. It's your job to give your employees the tools they need to be successful. You must be able to teach and train in a way that inspires your staff to succeed.
10. Thinking outside the box
While it may seem like an obvious fact, the market changes with the times. It's important to think outside the box because sometimes there are better ways to achieve business goals. Sometimes, the same tried and true methods don't always work. When a CEO thinks outside the box, it makes them and their company stand out to customers and prospects.
There are several other factors that add to the qualifications of a good CEO, such as experience, but these key traits will keep you ahead of the curve. If you are lacking in any of these areas, researching personal improvement skills, learning from other executives or investing in a business mentor are also great ways to grow personally and professionally.