As a business consultant, I know the CEO role is a tough one to fill. It’s also possibly the toughest one to have success over the term. Unfortunately, many departures from the CEO role are involuntary, in other words, they were fired for various reasons. Others leave after mediocre tenures. The very select ones leave having made a positive impact through the decisions and execution they were able to put in place for long term success.
There are many defining attributes that make CEOs successful. Too many for any one article posting, so today I will focus on four things I believe can positively affect a CEO’s tenure.
1. Focus on the impact.
One sure way to get on the road to lasting success is to make an impact on your industry that really changes it for the foreseeable future. Make changes that are very far from the old way of doing things disrupts not only your internal organization but the industry as a whole. This is how the category and industry leaders are created. Having the courage to insert some Blue Ocean Leadership into your organization to change it for the better and ensure its lasting success for generations to come. A company that follows the same old way of doing things will slowly and surely die off. A company that follows the crowd is average at best and low on the totem pole among peers at the worst. You need to make changes that solve problems in the industry and figure out ways to make it palatable for the customer base. Many CEOs waste time by making minor adjustments, but if you want to make a significant impact, find ways to solve problems no one else has seen yet.
2. Move as fast as possible.
You are going to find this is extremely necessary for some industries like technology where it advances almost daily. You can’t afford to just keep up, you have to move quickly if you want to lead. Working at a more rapid pace lets you build more things. You will more than likely break some things and make more mistakes, but this provides you with learning opportunities. Mark Zuckerberg lives by the motto “move fast and break things.”
3. Demonstrate boldness.
Safe bets are for those who are comfortable. Successful people are more comfortable when they are uncomfortable. Being in some pain tells them they are growing and pushing back limitations and barriers to growth. If you want the kind of success that pushes you ahead of the competition and brings you to the top of your company or even the top of your industry, you need to do some things others are afraid to do. Consider things no one else would even think of trying. You may fail but failing helps you discover the tweaks you need to make in order to succeed next time. The business world is constantly evolving, new opportunities are continually opening up, and the risk of becoming irrelevant is rising continuously. If you are afraid to take chances, you will never realize more of your potential in this position.
4. Show openness.
Be as transparent as possible with your employees and customers. The internet has made information easier to obtain. You create unnecessary suspicion and distrust if your business decisions, plan, and practices are kept private. Make sure everyone knows there is no secret plan. Be prepared to constantly deliver this message because 95% of your employees always think there are secret motives, even when there is not. Build trust constantly by being open and transparent. Don’t be afraid to change course if it looks like you are off in the wrong direction. Let them know you made a wrong decision, but you are correcting it as soon as possible. When you are open and transparent, this will keep you and your team more accountable. If you feel like you need to hide something, you probably shouldn’t be doing it.
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