“The most critical success factor for leaders is their ability to influence the right people, at the right time, about the right thing.”― Daren Martin
The three-lettered abbreviation “CEO—Chief Executive Officer”—a title that demands respects, an authority that conveys command and control, a persistent genius on the unending quest of greatness and success. The first thought that crosses your mind when you hear about this position is a person with a dominating demeanor, a personality similar to that of Bill Gates or Steve Jobs or even Larry Page. However, in reality, not every CEO shares the same set of characteristics. In fact, most of the successful CEOs and well-known personalities don’t even have the stereotypical traits that are usually associated with the job and position of a CEO.
Where cunning nature, self-promotional, self-obsessiveness and extroversion are the usually perceived characteristics of a CEO, most of the CEOs demonstrate rather traditional qualities of approachability, self-awareness, and prioritization. With ever-expanding market dynamics and marketing landscapes, a plethora of conjectures and mythologies exist regarding the attributes of successful CEOs and leaders.
What to look for in a CEO?
Leadership is evolving at a fast pace. In a study led by Russell Reynolds partnered with Hogan Assessment System and named as “Inside the Mind of CEO”, Russell addresses the various behavioral characteristics that together lead to success as a CEO. The discovery proved that CEOs have a different mindset and intellectual profile. The psychometric study in research indicates that the psychological profile of a CEO is marked with the attributes of courage, fast-paced nature, innovative thinking and active engagement.
The Best-in-class CEO demonstrates humility, a sense of purpose and focus on substance rather than the number of employees. A great is a true manifestation and perfect blend of the three I’s: Influence, Inference, and Initiative.
Being a CEO, it is your responsibility to take the carefully crafted initiative to convert unpredictable crises into successful and positive results as success is the reachable only with the correct mixture of enterprise, talent, and luck.
A CEO might result-driven but focuses on efforts and frameworks. Employing the characteristics of accurate assumptions, the CEO is responsible for understanding and deducing results from massive volumes of divergent data and utilizing it for increased productivity.
A sense of power accompanied by an attribute of persuasion to motivate others to get into action is one of the hallmark traits of a high-class CEO. A CEO knows when to embrace risk and which opportunities to capitalize on.
There’s no doubt that CEOs differ across several personality characteristics and behavioral aspects. The ability to take prompt action and result-oriented initiatives without any second thoughts genuinely separate them from the rest of the population.
The true essence of a high-class Chief Executive Officer:
The thorough research at McKinsey on CEO transition concludes that a successful CEO takes bold measures and initiatives for the swift and rapid transformation of the company. To provide you with comprehensive guidelines of the transitioning CEOs, here is a list of qualities that forms the personality of an exceptional CEO:
1. Speed and conviction based decisions:
Legends say that a successful leader is one who takes impactful decisions to steer the company towards success—the legend hasn’t got it all right. Research shows that the profile of a great CEO includes some wrong decisions as well. A successful leader knows when to and when not to take decisions. A high-performing CEO knows to standby his decision with conviction regardless of its impacts. The only difference between success and failure as a great leader and CEO is the ability to learn from bad decisions and improvise accordingly. Since most of the decisions can be reversible, knowing the right amount to speed to progress and move is what makes a CEO outstanding.
2. Impactful engagement:
A great CEO excels in keeping everyone on the same page while ensuring the execution of disciplined communication through influential strategies. Create a roadmap, list down the necessary people, classify the detractors, pinpoint the concerns and channel all the passivity to get your team going. A successful CEO knows how to instill confidence in his team, even when it comes to taking risky and unpopular actions. Shying away from the conflict is not what outlines the personality of a high-performing CEO. Ability to handle disagreeing viewpoints and willingness to engage and resolve conflicts is what enables a leader to speed up the pursuit of business success.
3. Proactive adaption:
Innovating as per the recent developments and trends is imperative for leaders and CEOs of the modern business world. A highly adaptive CEO invests most of his time in thinking about the long term objectives and come up with the right strategies to meet those goals. Since in this rapidly evolving business world, CEOs are often faced with a crisis and unforeseen situations—that’s when adaptability comes in handy. However, a great CEO knows the setbacks that might accompany the change in the company, but they treat their shortcomings as an opportunity to learn.
4. Reliable delivery:
It might sound like a stereotypical attribute of a CEO, but that doesn’t reduce the significance of this trait. The ability to deliver with reliability is what defines a pioneering leader. Higher the reliability score, the higher the chances to become the chief executive. However, it is important to set realistic expectations and set your work routine in line with those expectations. From management planning and organizational skills to accountability and performance monitoring, a great CEO knows how to move around for upgrading and acquiring talent.
In a nutshell, there is no particular formula for becoming a successful CEO; it all depends on the context of the industry and the specification of a situation. Successful leadership is not a quality of an un-accomplishable pedigree or a result of unchangeable personal characteristics—it is more about mastering the dichotomy of leadership and extreme ownership.