The C-suite is constantly evolving. In 2019, the term CEO holds new meaning and comes with new responsibilities. Factors such as technology progression, modern culture and evolving employee preferences all contribute to today’s leadership roles. To get a better handle on what really makes up a strong business leader in today’s dynamic marketplace, we’re sharing qualities of successful CEOs.
Eager to learn
The best leaders are those who can put themselves in the shoes of those they’re leading. Running a company requires wearing multiple hats and being accountable for every department within the organization. The more experience CEOs can gain and the more they can learn about all the pieces that contribute to the final product, the better prepared they’ll be to lead.
“Learn everything you can, do as many roles as you can. 40% of CEOs today won’t make it 18 months. People rush, and they get promoted too fast. So be well prepared.” Oracle CEO, Mark Hurd
With so many moving parts of a business, CEOs must be able to take charge of a situation and lead their team in the direction of success. Decisiveness is essential in this role as CEOs must accept that they won’t always have the perfect answer and it’s their responsibility to make judgement calls.
“Once I have 65% certainty around an answer, I have to make a call.” – Vi-Jon CEO, Jerry Bowe
Committed to the Role
Strong leaders recognize the need for a true passion for their role and the company they preside over. Success within an organization largely depends on the attitudes of its leaders. Being a successful CEO means having a special level of investment in a company’s success.
“To be a CEO is a calling. You should not do it because it is a job. It is a calling, and you have got to be involved in it with your head, heart and hands. Your heart has got to be in the job; you have got to love what you do; it consumes you.” – Former CEO of PepsiCo, Indra Nooyi
Conductors of Company Culture
Research shows employees today value culture and career growth almost twice as much as they value compensation and benefits when selecting an employer. As a CEO in the age of a millennial-dominated workforce, it’s important to put effort into core values communication. Leaders set the tone for what culture means within an organization and it’s in the entire team’s best interest to foster a culture that spurs engagement, innovation and teamwork.
In 2019, the matter of company culture is especially relevant to CEOs because of the prevalence of technology and social media. This era of information sharing puts companies in a heightened state of vulnerability. CEOs have to assume there are conversations happening surrounding people’s opinions about their organization—good or bad. Modern leaders recognize the need this creates for establishing a strong culture that has a meaningful impact on employees and easily incorporates into third-party conversations.
Perhaps more than ever, CEOs are subject to the same level of scrutiny as their entire organization. In 2019, it’s essentially a requirement for CEOs to consider themselves a public figure representing their organization in business settings and on social platforms. Business accounts, public speaking and political issues are all open to scrutiny, and CEOs must be equipped to withstand criticism for their words and actions.
Communication skills are key in any business setting and, as someone in charge, a CEO must possess excellent communication skills to effectively facilitate the tasks that come along with the role. Modern CEOs recognize getting one’s point across in a clear and concise manner makes it easier for others to follow. Whether it be a business deal, internal communication with employees on important things like employee benefits communication, or customer conversation, brevity is the key to influencing others and ensuring they understand and remember what they’ve heard.
Today’s CEOs are the voice of an organization, both privately and publicly. Strong communication skills are essential for speaking in physical settings and via technology channels. Social media platforms, interviews and public announcements are all pivotal to success in today’s hyper-connected world. Considering constantly advancing technology, divided political climates and customer demands, CEOs speak on behalf of more people than ever and are expected to respond to issues that arise in a way that coincides with company values.
More than 70% of surveyed CEOs believe they need to lead a radical digitally-led transformation of their business model. Business leaders need to embrace technology to succeed in this digital age, regardless of industry. Forward-thinking companies should develop a digital strategy that drives digital transformation. However, without the leadership of an innovative CEO, this process can stall. As technology continues to advance and businesses become more tech-centric, the need for experience in working with the cloud, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity are becoming increasingly necessary for CEOs.
The challenges facing CEOs will continue to evolve as will the role itself. In order to stay competitive, businesses and their leaders must adapt with the times.