What separates an über-successful CEO from an average one? It’s not being super bottom-line focused or being a great salesperson. While these attributes can certainly help, what elevates CEOs from so-so to stellar are the things they do to not just boost their own success, but help their team grow as well. The best CEOs commit to being visionary leaders who create and uphold a holistic growth plan for their company, employees, and themselves. When they do this, it leads to success personally and professionally for everyone who touches the business.
Here are ten key characteristics of an uber-successful CEO:
A clear vision is critical to business success, but it is important to ensure that the entire team is on-board with the mission. It is not just about telling them what to do, but also about defining the why behind the action and ensuring that each employee has their personal ‘why’ defined as well. If they are not invested in where the company is going, they will stall and drag performance down with them.
The CEO should hold a Mission Workshop with the team to outline company vision and map out each individual’s mission as well.
2. Cultivates a culture
One of the CEO’s responsibilities is to create and uphold a culture that differentiates the company. A culture is defined by the inherent values, energy, and actions that drive everyone in the team to do their best work. It is a comprehensive range of factors including goals, benefits, environment, rewards, tasks, respect, and personality traits that create a culture. Each employee must fit into and value these elements, or they will hold the company back.
The CEO should do a comprehensive assessment of the company culture to identify where they are, where they want to be, and the gaps they need to close to reach their goals—and then implement them.
3. Realistic Expectations
Many CEOs come on board with guns blazing, ready to rock the boat and change the game. However, with change comes stress. With change comes shifts in workload. With change comes different ideas on how to make it happen. This can create chaos in an organization. If the CEO wants to be successful, they need to set realistic and achievable expectations that don’t burn out, frustrate, or overwork the team.
While the CEO wants to be strategic and vision-focused, they must also be aware of what is happening in the trenches. They should care for their employees and offer support to achieve success without burning out.
4. Stress Management
When the team faces stress, it leads to sick days, reduced productivity, relationship problems, moodiness, and many other issues. Stress is not something to be taken lightly. It impacts health-insurance costs, innovation, employee turnover, and general engagement and happiness with the job. Successful CEOs know that not only do they have to manage their own stress at work and at home, but they also MUST implement structured training, resources, and benefits for their employees.
The CEO should work with a wellness coach or consultant to create a comprehensive stress-management program that is customizable to team members.
5. Customized Benefits
Benefits are not one-size-fits-all. Some people value pay and rewards while others value flexibility and freedom. The CEO should get to know their employees on a personal level to ensure they are offering benefits, rewards, and incentives that maximize what each person needs and wants to do the best job they can do.
The CEO should do a survey to get to know what the team wants in terms of benefits. They should then get creative in offering unique things to meet those needs.
6. Flexible Work Place
Not everyone works best in the same way or at the same time. Although the CEO wants to develop employees who fit the culture they envision for the company, they must also meet their individual work styles and needs. Some enjoy teamwork, while others are more independent. Some are early risers, while others are night owls. Creating a flexible workplace requires customizing work to each employee’s needs.
The CEO should encourage management to work with their employees to create schedules that work for them.
7. Setting the Right Goals
CEOs must always set and measure goals. Unless the CEO sets the right guidelines, goals can stagnate, causing stress because there is no progress. A great goal should be gut-checked, obtainable, actionable, life-oriented, small, and supported. This goes for both personal and professional goals.
The CEO should work with an expert or coach to create goals that fit their needs and hold them accountable along the way.
8. Effective Communication
A team in the dark is a team that can turn against the CEO. When employees feel left behind, out of the loop, or out of control, they get stressed. This leads to a lack of productivity, worries over job security, and even sabotage if they blame the company. As a CEO, effective communication is necessary to ensure the team is informed, and there is a clear way of communicating changes, ideas, and company news.
The CEO should work with their HR or employee-relations team to create an open communication environment for the company.
9. Listening Skills
When tough times hit a company, signs and indications were there long before it went bad. The CEO should listen to their team, open their eyes to what is happening on the front lines, have open dialogue with employees, and drive goals, actions, and changes for the success of the company, the team, and themselves.
The CEO should be present and around their team to hear what is happening.
10. Don’t Be a Jerk
Although being a success means being aggressive and plowing forward with the vision, it doesn’t mean being a jerk. It’s possible to lead well and be nice at the same time. CEOs need to hire and fire, discipline, and create growth, but that does not mean they have to be the CEO everyone hates or avoids.
The CEO should get in touch with their own goals and personality, be honest with who they are and how people relate to them, and work on the areas in which they need improvement.
In conclusion, CEOs who commit to being visionary leaders and create and uphold a holistic growth plan for their company, employees, and themselves are the most successful. The best CEOs create momentum in their own success and help their team and company grow simultaneously. They have a strong vision, a positive culture, realistic expectations, proper stress management, customized benefits, a flexible workplace, effective communication, listening skills, and a kind personality.