When managing a business, it is crucial that a CEO demonstrates leadership skills that can improve the efficiency of the business, increase the confidence of employees, enhance the company’s stability and optimize the experiences of customers.
Many high-achievers dream about becoming a CEO. But to make this dream a reality, it is vital to acquire some specific skills as you are climbing the corporate ladder. Let’s dive into the most important one:
Leadership Skills that Come From Previous Experiences
Every CEO had at least a few years of experience before becoming a CEO. However, not every CEO took full advantage of these previous experiences. In order to make the experience relevant, you must carefully examine all your successes and failures. There is a difference between an experience and an evaluated experience.
It is often heard about the successful CEOs who failed a couple of times as founders, for example. This might sound like a negative experience, but in fact, it is an excellent experience to have before becoming a CEO.
Successful CEO must have both soft skills and technical skills — which many times are only developed with time and practice. Some of the aspects that a CEO should master includes the ability to analyze trends that can influence customers preferences, the ability to look at reports and understand the next moves of competition, the ability to bring creative solutions to complex challenges, and of course, the ability to inspire the employees.
Previous experiences should have taught CEOs how to read detailed reports that describe the company’s sales forecast, the company’s conversion rates, the company’s financial statements, and the customer satisfaction reports.
Furthermore, having some years of experience in the company before becoming a CEO can be extremely helpful. That’s because you will be able to understand and naturally incorporate the company’s culture and core values. Additionally, you will have the opportunity to live and breath the company’s processes, understand the customers and be familiar with the industry’s best practices.
Leadership Skills that Come from Human Resources Experience
A successful CEO must be able to understand the best practices in the human resources department. If you want to become a CEO having some experience in some areas such as talent attraction, retention, compensation, and benefits is a plus.
While a CEO expands a successful business, the company must invest in offering numerous incentives to attract motivated and talented employees. Besides attracting a talented pool of employees, you, as a CEO, must ensure that there is enough motivation to retain these employees. Even though companies must have a designated human resources department, it is key that the CEO understand the best practices and give the department the autonomy to apply these best practices.
One of the most common ways to attract and retain the most talented employees is by offering a valuable package of employee benefits. Many companies have been creative when it comes to what perks they are including. Tesla, for example, offers every worker free enrollment in the Quit for Life tobacco cessation program. Whole Foods also has great employee benefits. One of the perks included in their package is the chance to attend an expenses-paid health getaway trip.
Various experts have indicated that millions of individuals frequently search for employers who can offer excellent employee benefits. The new generation that is currently part of the workforce wants more than just safety. Therefore, by offering these important benefits, you can retain knowledgeable employees, and you could significantly reduce the number of experts who work for competing businesses.
Leadership that Inspires Employees
One of the main aspects that differentiate an average CEO from an excellent CEO is their ability to inspire. CEOs are the living representation of the company’s culture and core values. For this reason, every employee looks up to the CEO as a mirror. After all, many of them want to sit on the CEO’s chair one day.
Every CEO must aim to build cohesive teams, optimize communication, understand each employee’s abilities, and stimulate every employee’s creativity. However, CEOs must be able to do all that through the ability to inspire managers. That’s because CEOs are not present in the day-to-day activities of every team. Instead, managers are the ones who are constantly there. Therefore, if a CEO can inspire managers to work to their full potential, he or she will be indirectly influencing every single employee in the company. This is a cycle that, through inspiration, leads the company to the accomplishment of goals.
If you aim to become a CEO, you must look up to people that inspire you and understand what it is that this person does that makes you admire him or her. Most inspirational leaders have the ability to communicate the “why”. If people who you are trying to influence agree to your “why” it becomes easy to get their buy-in and to motivate them to work on your purpose — which in the case of the company is the vision.
Ideally, the company can offer step-by-step instructions that may help employees to achieve numerous milestones. However, if they don’t feel inspired to do so, it will not be as effective.
Leadership Skills to Handle Uncertainty
Leading a business means regularly dealing with uncertainty. This type of situation is extremely hard for most people, and if you don’t know how to deal with it is often leads to low productivity. Handling uncertainty means understanding how to control anxiety and stress. This is a characteristic of emotionally intelligent people.
It can be frustrating to not know exactly where the next step you decided to take will lead the company. However, the reality is that leading a company is dealing with risk and most of the times the decisions are made based on gut feelings. Of course, having the right reports and data can help to decrease the uncertainty, but it will never be eliminated.
Generally, a CEO can deal with numerous unstable situations during each year, and a company’s leader may offer innovative solutions, evaluate various options, encourage uncertain customers and examine past similar situations. Sometimes, it is a great idea to look for advice from experienced consultants or executive board members to increase confidence.
When a company is facing general uncertainty, it is crucial that the CEO demonstrates guidance and confidence to the team. The CEO must always look calm and when necessary he or she should offer clear instructions. This practice can improve the stability of each situation, enhance the focus of employees, stimulate the formation of unique ideas and optimize teamwork.
The Bottom Line
The CEO is the centerpiece of any company. Even though you will likely have a support network to assist in daily practices, as a CEO, you need a broad knowledge and excellent leadership skills. The company’s vision, culture, and core values depend on the CEO’s leadership to come to life.
Therefore, if you want to climb the corporate ladder and become a successful CEO, make sure you learn from the ones who inspire you.