Being given the opportunity to shape and develop a company and take a lead role in determining its future, as its CEO, is the aim of many executives. What does it take to become a CEO and how can you distinguish between the bad and the good, and more importantly the good and the great?
Know your weaknesses
No one is able to be excellent at everything or to know all the answers; if the person at the top is afraid to ask questions and use the experience around them, then it is likely that those below will follow suit. Great CEOs know when to ask for help and how to look for answers that they don’t have. They foster a working environment that encourages employees to ask questions and to work together to solve problems and create effective answers.
Develop good communication skills
A basic skill for CEO jobs is good communication that goes beyond basic interactions with other executives, employees and the board; it involves being able to share your vision and aims with the whole company and develop the same level of enthusiasm in them as you have for the company. Good communication, whether it is verbal or written, helps each individual to feel valued and works towards building respect; it is worth remembering that good communication is a two way street that also involves good quality listening.
Be willing to get involved
If you are setting up a new project or asking employees to change working practices then get involved and try it out alongside them; this is especially important if you are new to a company or are facing resistance to new ideas. Getting involved is also a way of getting to know employees and responding to concerns that they may have. Taking this approach will also help you close the gap between the theory of how something should work and the reality of how it actually does work; in the long term it could help save money, improve productivity and aid with staff retention as their input is seen to make a difference.
As a CEO, employees look up to you for leadership and the Board of Directors and investors want to know that their investments and shares are in safe hands. You are the face of the company and as such you need to project an image that reflects the industry, and encourages investment and good publicity. You need to ensure that you have the technical skills and experience needed for the role and to keep these skills up to date.
Keep a sense of perspective and humor
In all CEO jobs things will go wrong and it is important to be able to distinguish between small setbacks and significant problems and not treat everything as a major disaster. By being able to keep a sense of perspective you will be able to respond appropriately and deal with each issue more effectively. While having a sense of humour may not help solve the actual problem, it will lower stress levels, help you to see the lighter side and hopefully leave you in a better frame of mind for finding suitable solutions.