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Want to Be a CEO? 
Here Are the Skills You Need to Develop

See also: Developing Your Leadership Style

Any individual who aspires to become a CEO, rising from the working ranks to a lower executive position into the highest levels, must have certain key attributes that distinguishes them from other employees.

Individuals might sometimes be born with these skills, and be termed as natural leaders that motivate others and lead a team towards success. However, others might be required to develop these skills over a period of time.

The CEO is the head of the company and therefore the responsibility for the entire company rests upon their shoulders.

The following skills are necessary and need to be learned if you have dreams of becoming a CEO, or want to ensure that your term in that position is profitable for you and your company alike.

The Ability to Be Innovative

Globalization, a competitive business environment, escalating inflation and rapid technological advancement all mean that organizations are faced with a rapidly changing business environment.

The key to success for any organization is to be able to innovate on a continuous basis and deliver a range of features in their products and services that are not yet marketed by their competitors. A CEO must ideally be able to anticipate the future and design a set of strategies that effectively combat change and result in profitability in the long term.

See our page: Innovation Skills for more information.

A Risk Taker

A CEO must ideally be able to take calculated risks after conducting an in-depth evaluation of the probabilities associated with the profit and loss outcomes of the decision.

Any individual that is risk-averse is not generally suitable as a CEO candidate, as an executive that has an inability to take risk is likely to force the company to lag behind other competitors. A CEO should be able to take risks, although the risks must not jeopardize the survival or the profitability of the company.

See our page on Risk Management for more.

An Optimistic Nature

A CEO should have an optimistic nature in general, and able to identify opportunities even within difficult situations.

The individual must be able to think outside the box and design strategies that can effectively combat the threats faced by the organization, while inspiring others to keep a positive attitude and work hard to get through bad times.

For more on optimism see Positive Thinking Skills.

The Ability to Take Action

A CEO must be able to take timely action based on the environmental factors at work.

However, a CEO must not be impulsive, and any course of action must be constructed after careful thought and analysis. A CEO must not only be able to design strategies that effectively combat change but also execute them in a manner such that they enhance the profitability of the organization.

You may find our pages on Project Management and Action Planning useful.

Coordination and Communication with Team Members

A CEO must be able to effectively communicate with fellow team members and explore ideas and suggestions put forward by the team.

A CEO must be open-minded to the ideas or strategies put forward by staff members rather than focusing on strategies that are designed by him or herself.

The communication skills of a CEO are largely based on their vocabulary, and therefore a CEO that has extraordinary vocabulary skills is likely to be able to communicate with fellow team members and subordinates with ease. This particularly holds true for the CEO of a multinational company that is communicating with employees that uphold different cultural values.

Controlled Emotion

A CEO must be able to maintain control over his or her emotions.

However, this does not suggest that a CEO must be rigid in behavior and fail to applaud successes or point out failures. Rather the intensity of emotion must be maintained in a manner such that the fellow colleagues and subordinates understand the underlying meaning of the emotion.

A CEO must ideally not display excessive levels of anger at small mistakes or become overjoyed at small wins. Rather, he or she must know how to appreciate employees and push them in the right direction that allows the team to achieve the corporate aim of the organization.

See our pages: Managing Emotions and Emotional Intelligence for more information.

Inclusion in Decision Making

A CEO must be able to involve others in the decision-making process and promote a culture in which all the employees work as a team in order to achieve a common goal or objective.

The CEO must communicate to fellow colleagues and subordinates that their input into the decision-making process is considered to be highly valuable. The final decision must only be taken after conducting a complete financial and non-financial analysis of the decision and considering how the decision can allow the team to achieve the corporate objective of the organization.

However, the CEO must also be an independent decision maker and should be able to make such decisions during pressure periods when time constraints hinder the ability to involve others in the decision-making process.

For more, see our pages on Decision Making.

The Ability to Trust Others

A culture of mutual trust must be developed by the CEO whereby the CEO is able to trust fellow colleagues and subordinates.

This indicates that a CEO must be willing to delegate authority while overseeing various functions within the organization. However, the CEO must be comfortable in sharing authority with a wide range of people, but must also not turn a blind eye towards them. This indicates that although the CEO must delegate authority to perform tasks, the ultimate power is vested within the CEO and therefore she or he must oversee and take responsibility for all corporate decisions undertaken by the staff.

See Trustworthiness and Conscientiousness for more.

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