Being a CEO doesn’t immediately make you a great leader. In my opinion being a great leader takes time and experience to understand how to navigate both the highs and lows that come with business.
As the founder of 8 business, I’ve seen it all. I’ve led teams through busy and thriving periods, times of challenge, through mergers and acquisitions. I’ve hired and fired to find the right talent and built strong teams who rally and come together to help push through busy and challenging times.
As CEO, you’re the visionary of the business and need to be working towards the big picture, while still paying attention to the details. Founders and CEOs are often planning the many ideas they want to bring to life, so it’s essential that they have the right teams, connections and support systems around to execute these.
Leadership requires patience and empathy, great communication skills, the ability to network and build relationships, to delegate and empower your team, and a high level of self-care. If you can’t look after your own health first, stress and exhaustion take over and your ability to successfully lead and motivate people declines.
Here are the six top qualities I believe every successful CEO needs:
There are only so many ideas your team can bring to life in a 3, 6 or 12 month period, so being patient and setting realistic goals is key.
2. Strategic planning
A good CEO should be able to identify and build on the areas of a business that are essential to its success and growth. Have a clear growth strategy and long-term plan in place. 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your customers and 80% of your output comes from 20% of your activities – know what those 20% are and who those 20% are and build strategies that build the efficiency of your business.
Read more on strategy first-hand, and the 80/20 rule in further detail here.
Hiring the right talent is essential. Then you can delegate and empower your team to manage the details, freeing you up to focus on the bigger-picture strategies.
Being able to keep a brave face and stay calm through stressful periods is critical. As soon as your staff get wind of any challenges, panic spreads like wildfire through a business. Resilience in the face of adversity is what will help you pull through. Managing your physical and mental wellbeing through exercise, good nutrition, meditation and creative outlets is essential to building your resilience.
Honesty and integrity are core qualities every leader should hold. Trust can make or break a business. Not just the trust of your customers but the trust of your team. Your team need to feel secure that you’ll do the right thing by them and that as a company you’ll behave ethically and in line with their values.
Studies have found that humble leaders listen more effectively and focus everyone on organisational goals better than those leaders who have scored low on humility. They leave ego at the door and are better adept at hiring the best talent because they look for people who are smarter or better experienced in different areas to themselves. They’re more likely to respect differences and get the best out of their teams.
A great CEO needs some key leadership qualities and to be constantly learning and growing. The ability to execute on your vision, regardless of the method, is pivotal to effective leadership. As the head of a company it is your responsibility to motivate and align people with your company vision and values and empower them to help bring that vision to life.