Reaching the dizzy heights of an executive position like an MD or CEO takes years of hard work. It would be best to have the education and qualifications, and years of leadership and management roles. Putting that aside, there are other skills you can acquire and use to excel as a CEO or executive, and the good news is you can develop them while you’re in the role.
To start a company, you bucket loads of confidence. Having belief in yourself and what you and your company do is a prerequisite to acquiring customers. As the business grows, your role also includes developing a company culture, providing inspiration and motivating workers to aspire to greater heights so they too can take on leadership roles.
Confidence is developed through personal success in education, sports, arts and culture, and business. It can be what separates you from your peers. There have been many successful CEOs who rose to the top of enterprises without a degree. Some of these high profile leaders include:
- Mark Zuckerberg
- Steve Jobs
- Bill Gates
- Larry Ellison
These people are just some of the tech founders who got to the top without a tertiary qualification—many other CEOs in industries like transport, e.g. Virgin’s Richard Branson and iHeartMedia’s Bob Pitman. All successful CEOs have a community of followers, and to get it, they have used communication.
Expert communication skills are a prerequisite for all leadership roles. The ability to articulate complex information, so your audience understands and appreciates your viewpoint secures the right team, advocates and customers. To hone your communication skills work on:
- empathy – for example, how to deliver bad news
- compassion – being sensitive to setbacks and adversity
- negotiation – seeing both sides, being objective, fair in your route to getting what you need
Always be Open to Learning More
The first tip can apply to any person, really, and that’s to be open to learning more. Just because you have reached the top of the career ladder and finally have your dream job, it shouldn’t mean that the learning stops. It’s essential to keep growing, asking questions, digging more profound, and enhancing what you have to offer.
Understand the Importance of Listening
Driving the conversation is pivotal for any leader, and some may believe listening takes a backseat. Successful leaders have learned how to listen. They listen to everyone from staff to customers and people they meet throughout the day.
Ideas come from feedback, so we all can improve our effectiveness when we do more listening than talking. As the saying goes: seek to understand, then to be understood. There are different types of listening:
You’ll know when you’re in passive listening mode when you’re present and may even be looking at the person talking, but you’ve zoned out, and you’re not taking in what the other person is saying. Nor do you give a response that shows you understand, agree or disagree. While passive listening may seem antisocial, it has its place. For example, you can have music playing, but your focus is writing a blog post like this one. 🙂
Giving something or someone your full attention when they are talking is a sign of active listening. Paraphrasing what you’ve heard and responded with your feedback confirmed not only have you listened actively – you’ve also understood the message or content.
Create a Personal Brand
While it may seem like the only brand that matters is that of the company you work for, in reality, you’ll want to spend some time defining your brand image too. This is all part of successful CEO positioning, all of which is meant to ensure you represent the company properly and come across positively as a thought leader. This helps the business to build authority, recognition, and trust.
Change Doesn’t Have to be a Bad Thing.
Top executives don’t fear change but embrace it. You are what you think, and change is inevitable, so the leaders who ‘love’ change and look for the positives that lead the transition successfully.
Leading by Example is the Ultimate Tip
Then there is the final tip, which is one you’ve probably heard many times by now. Making sure you lead by example is truly the best way to inspire employees. By showing them what you expect from them and making sure you live up to those expectations yourself, you create a much more cohesive workplace, work ethic, and culture.
By using these tips, you’ll be able to excel as a CEO and truly knock it out of the park.