Are You the Ideal CEO for Your Business?
You may have started the business you are now running but are you the best person to take it to the next level of success? Are you bigheaded or humble? Do you possess the skill set and broad list of competencies that are necessary to be a leader in your industry? Perhaps you are in fact the ideal person to be CEO. However, do you have the honesty and humility to examine your suitability for the CEO role and to deal with the consequences of your soul-searching?
You can never underestimate the importance of leadership in a business. In good companies, leadership exists at every level of the business but it must start at the top with the CEO. If your business has an inspirational CEO that leads from the front, it is likely that this leadership style will be emulated by subordinates. So where do good leadership skills come from? To some extent they will be an inherent part of the CEO’s personality and character. However, they will also be a reflection of the sum of the life experiences of the CEO.
Generally speaking, the best CEO’s have been exposed to working in a range of different positions and indeed a range of different industries. They possess a comprehensive toolkit of skills acquired during their business life. However, this is not always the case. Many CEO’s have started from their garage at home as the sole employee of their entrepreneurial business. Think of entrepreneurial CEO’s like the late Steve Jobs, Michael Dell and Bill Gates that have grown enormous businesses from humble beginnings.
The purpose of this paper is to identify general traits and experience such as relevant industry experience, charisma, leadership style and cultural fit that will help to establish the ability of a CEO to lead a business successfully. It attempts to measure a CEO on his/her ability to communicate effectively, strategic thinking, leading change, team building and general leadership. It also considers his/her ability and willingness to hire people that are perhaps stronger or more experienced than him/her and who may in fact challenge the status quo. It is not a perfect assessment and the exceptions to the rule as portrayed in the last paragraph will continue to exist.
It takes a pretty introspective CEO to be able to honestly assess whether he/she has all of the attributes that may be considered desirable for the position that they hold. Nevertheless, it is something they should try to do with openness. If there appears to be gaps in the CEO profile when compared to what might be considered desirable, then the CEO can hire to fill these gaps. After all, nobody can possibly have all the answers.
So, what unique attributes does the CEO in your business have that contributes to making the business successful? Consider the options presented below and decide which one is closest to your situation.
- Enormous experience in one core area such as R&D, Engineering, Sales, Marketing, Administration or Finance – This is quite common for entrepreneurial businesses where the CEO is effectively the visionary that builds the business from grass roots through his/her strong skills in a single discipline and then moves on to learn new skills in other disciplines so that he/she can be effective in the CEO role. The brave CEO with this type of profile typically hires in people with the necessary skills that he/she has not yet developed and allows them to push and challenge him/her without rancour.
- Multifaceted experience in many different business disciplines – This is probably the most common type of CEO who often changes from business to business as he/she solves the business challenges in each company and then moves on to the next challenging role. This is often coupled with natural leadership traits.
- Excellent people person with natural leadership traits – This is the naturally charismatic type of leader that easily inspires employees and has a strong soft skills background. He/She tends to surround himself/herself with a multidisciplinary team that is happy to follow wherever he/she leads.
- Visionary entrepreneur that consistently operates at the leading edge of your industry – This type of CEO tends to be a groundbreaker that does not fear risk taking and has an assuredness and confidence that allows him/her to knock down traditional boundaries. Often appears arrogant and demanding and may be difficult to work for at times.
- Other – This CEO may have an untypical background and style.
Now consider if the CEO is a good fit for the business in terms of a number of key measures. You can select all that apply.
- Relevant Industry Experience – you believe that the CEO has all the necessary industry and sectoral experience to run the business successfully
- Charismatic Individual – you believe the CEO is an inspirational character that inspires confidence and to who people naturally look up to and follow.
- Leadership Style is ideal for your business – you believe the CEO’s leadership style is one that sits well with all management and staff and that it is one that is in concert with the way the business has been run over time.
- CEO is a Cultural Match for the business – you believe that the CEO’s approach to doing business does not cause any ripples with management and staff and that he/she will not attempt to change the culture of the business to reflect his/her personal style and beliefs.
- Effective Communicator – you understand the importance of excellent communication at the top of any organisation and you believe that the CEO can effortlessly communicate effectively internally within the company, to other stakeholders and with the media.
- Strategic Thinker – you believe that the CEO is like a good chess player, anticipating market and competitor moves well in advance and executing strategies that deliver competitive advantage and superior financial and operational performance.
- Excellent Leader for bringing in changes – you believe that the CEO possesses a unique quality that allows him/her to bring in fundamental structural and organisational change without significant resistance or back lash.
- Inspirational Team Builder – you believe that the CEO inspires managers and staff on a daily basis, which he/she consistently leads from the front, and that he/she has a successful track record of putting cohesive teams together that consistently delivers desired results.
The intention of the foregoing typical attributes is not to put you in a box. Rather, it is an attempt to create an awareness of different styles and approaches that can often be seen in CEO’s. If it identifies some shortcomings in your particular style, skill set and approach then this is valuable information for you to have. It is only on the basis of self-awareness that we can strive to do better.