4 Insights into what great CEOs do differently

When less-than-optimal leadership costs businesses as much as 7% of total sales each year — what’s the difference between a good CEO and a great CEO? A good CEO is an important part of any successful business. A great CEO, on the other hand, doesn’t just lead — they inspire and contribute to an impactful business.

Here are the four key traits in particular that separate the good CEOs from the great ones. 87% of professional leaders, who either become or aspire to one day to become a CEO, deliberately develop the following four qualities. They may seem simple, but the key lies in the consistency of application that delivers the best results time and again.

1. Great CEOs make decisions with conviction

A great CEO understands that more often than not, it’s not about making the best decision possible — it’s about being decisive with conviction. It’s less about making the perfect decision and more about making decisions when they’re needed and acting without doubt.

A common trait among CEOs with the highest IQ is that they often struggle with making fast decisions as they’re much more likely to weigh the pros and cons of every situation. This leads to indecision and ambiguity, which invariably creates a bottleneck.

Great CEOs know that the expectation of ‘perfect information’ is an unrealistic one on the best of days; you need to make decisions quickly with conviction. If any signs of doubt are exhibited, employees will quickly start to lose faith in their leaders.

2. Great CEOs know how to measure impact

Regardless of the business you’re running or even in the industry you’re operating in, success more often than not comes down to your ability to deliver results. A great CEO never focuses too much on their vision without understanding the precise impact of that vision and which metrics will ultimately be used to measure its success.

To that end, it should come as no surprise that CEOs who are deftly able to engage their stakeholders’ needs are 75% more successful in their role than those who aren’t.

To be a great CEO, you need to be aware of not just the impact of what you want delivered — but also the impact you’re making when you deliver the results or engage with the people who have a stake in the game.

This idea even plays a role in how you interact with people on a daily basis. Remember that employees will always magnify your reactions. If you grimace when someone is telling you their ‘next big idea’, they might immediately think you hate it — or worse, think they’re being fired.

Along the same lines, good CEOs will allow employees to vote in the direction of the company. Great CEOs will allow them to have a true voice in the matter, albeit with the understanding that the consensus-driven decision is not necessarily the one that will be made. Knowing how to measure impact — in this case, the difference between listening to the input of employees because you’re afraid of being disliked versus making an unpopular move because you know it’s the best one — is something you’ll need to focus on if you want to move up to ‘great CEO’ status.

3. Great CEOs adapt proactively

Everything about your business is changing regularly — from the marketplace you’re trying to serve to your industry to your organisation at a basic level. CEOs who are able to adapt to changing times and evolving needs are roughly 6.7 times more likely to succeed than those who do not.

For a great CEO, adapting proactively is less about being able to successfully handle today’s challenges and more about dividing your attention between short and long-term thinking. Devoting as much of your time as possible to thinking about the long-term direction of things makes it easier for you to not only recognise signs of change and mitigate risks ahead of time, but it also creates a business that operates with a growth mindset as well.

4. Great CEOs deliver reliably

Good CEOs make promises. Great CEOs keep them.

To be a great CEO, you need to demonstrate results. This means that you need to show you cannot only recognise what needs to be done to move a business forward, but actually do it. It should come as no surprise that CEO candidates who are twice as likely to deliver results than average are much more likely to actually be picked for that role.

To get better at this, learn how to set realistic expectations upfront. Focus on establishing business management systems including dashboards, accountability, performance monitoring, and more. All of this allows you to build a much more stable bridge between where you are today and what you promised you would do tomorrow.

One of the major reasons that CEOs sometimes don’t deliver expected results is because they don’t have the tools in place when they need them the most. In fact, 60% of CEOs make the rookie mistake of not having the right team in place quickly enough. Words are cheap — actions are more expensive. From the business management solutions you employ to the teams you surround yourself with, all of this helps you deliver what you need, when you need it, no exceptions.

From good to great

The fact of the matter is that the gap between a good CEO and a great one is often created less as a result of any one major move and more because of a series of small ones. Knowing how to make decisions with conviction, knowing how to measure the impact of actions both large and small, being able to adapt to a naturally fluid environment, and knowing how to deliver what you promised are all major leadership traits that you should be focused on.

If you’d like to find out more information about the major qualities of a great CEO, or if you’d like to learn more about similar leadership insight topics, please don’t hesitate to contact us today. 

 

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