Leadership is the key interpersonal role played by managers in organizations and is most critical for a CEO. As the highest-ranking officer in a corporation, the CEO is ultimately accountable for the outcome of all managerial decisions.
At this level, leadership requires motivating and managing all activities within a company to achieve desired strategic objectives, which benefit its overall performance. CEOs must inspire the trust, commitment and loyalty among subordinates, capturing workers’ enthusiasm and admiration.
CEO authority is based on recognition of its legitimacy, expressed not only by a precisely defined position at top of the firm’s hierarchy, but also by the CEO’s business knowledge and acumen. Although most CEOs possess innate qualities of charismatic leadership — a natural capacity to administer and manage organizations — acquisition of CEO-level leadership must be further developed through a combination of experience and training.
Good management requires effective application of leadership’s traditional functions – setting a vision, execution, planning, decision-making, directing others and external and internal communications — in a manner that can be practically implemented throughout the business. To be successful, CEOs should emphasize the following:
Focusing on context to develop strategies relevant to the organization’s business and practically translating these ideas into efficient, competitive and profitable operations.
Separating reflection from real work while getting projects from the planning stage to implementation.
Accurately estimating the needs of all those involved in corporate performance. CEOs understand the nature and importance of different roles played by the various subgroups within the corporation.
Accurately measuring results by monitoring performance in relation to objectives, CEOs seek to improve processes in order to boost the company’s competitive position and overall business results.
While these traits are essential to management, there are personal characteristics inherent to the individual. Developing CEO-worthy leadership traits requires combining suitable personal qualities with exemplary training and background.
Must-have leadership traits for CEOs
High achieving CEOs combine personal responsibility, skill and vision with recognition of appropriate enterprise ethics and effective implementation of the firm’s business priorities. Here are 6 must-have traits every CEO should work to cultivate:
1. Business knowledge
In order to see projects through to completion, CEOs must understand cost-management and return-on-investment requirements. A good leader is able to recognize employees’ expertise in their designated fields and delegate authority accordingly.
2. Executive presence
Charismatic authority — the personal appeal of the leader — entails exhibiting confidence, poise under pressure, decisiveness and a diplomatic but assertive way of addressing subordinates in corporate settings and audiences outside the organization.
3. Identifying people’s needs
CEOs need to recognize the changing nature of the workplace in order to best serve his or her employees. For executives, this requires delegating authority to corporate officers sufficiently responsible to ensure effective management of interactions between the firm and its customers, competitors, the government and society.
4. Communications skills
Equally important to understanding the needs of organizational players is aligning them with corporate objectives. An outstanding CEO knows how to speak openly and intelligently to the organization’s members.
5. Building effective relationships
The success of every business depends on cooperation within the organization. Workplace coalitions are created to solve enterprise problems. CEOs need to define the nature of the problems undertaken and identify to the furthest possible extent their relationship to organizational objectives and their resolution. Relationships with executive personnel and the workforce must be appropriately nurtured through leadership, communication, conflict resolution and project development.
6. Organizational development
Yesterday’s organizational successes often mean very little in a world of rapidly changing social conditions, commercial markets, products, values, standards of behavior and lifestyles. Corporate leaders must recognize when change is necessary and implement relevant responses to altering conditions as they emerge.
There are many CEOs at the helm of corporations, big and small however not all of those CEO’s are true leaders. That requires incorporating the traits and skillsets detailed above along with innate personal characteristics that result in a strong vision, the desire by others to buy into the vision and develop implementation plans to execute on the vision.