How To Be a Great CEO
Updated: Aug 29, 2020
Growing up, I wanted to be everything, however, I was definitely certain about one thing, which was that I wanted to become independent and own my own business. I knew that I wanted to empower and help others achieve their full potential and enable them to get out of the inevitable cycle of living paycheck to paycheck. My parents left everything and everyone behind from our native land of Egypt to come to the United States and build a better life for our family. I knew that I had to achieve greatness to pay them back for everything they have done and continue to do for my siblings and I. P.S. Egyptians do not ride camels around town and we do not live in pyramids...just in case you were wondering.
With that said, I learned early on that gaining an impeccable work ethic, continuously reading and learning, moving up the corporate ladder, and networking would surely get me there. Having founded my own National Consulting Firm that specializes in Human Resources, Management, Staffing, and Talent Optimization over 2.5 years ago, I will say that I am happy I always took an employee-first approach. Here are some tips on how to become a great and successful CEO in this ever-changing world we are living in:
1. Continuously Learn & Grow (Be humble but stay fierce)
Working as a CEO, can be humbling and very difficult all at the same time. Do not stop growing and learning about different facets of your business and competitors in your space. Always read books to help you become a better CEO, and build new skills along the way. Make an effort to get to know as many people in your organization and be present in some of the day to day operations to lend a helping hand. You never know, someone may bring up some good points that change some of that vision you thought was flawless.
2. Learn To Trust; Don't Micromanage
You hired top talent to run point on developing and executing on your vision and plan for the company. They have to be given full credibility and respect on day 1 in order for them to efficiently do their job. You must run point on the overall execution, however learn to entrust your management team in assisting you with achieving the overall business goals. Look to always hire or promote people who are smarter than you in certain aspects of the business, lean on their expertise, and let them drive a part of your vision. There is nothing more fulfilling than empowering others to shine alongside you. It is a true testament to your leadership style and capabilities.
However, with this type of leadership style, you must also trust your gut and recognize when something isn't going the way it should. CEO's must be able to move quickly on people decisions and effective communication and expectation setting early on is key. Nothing is more important than putting the right people in the right place, at the right time—for them and the company. If your management team is unable to execute on difficult transitional growth trajectories, think about developing their skills quickly, or having to make some difficult decisions.
3. Build a Thick Skin
Judgement and criticism is all too real when you have been entrusted with the CEO title, after-all, you will be the one to blame if your strategy does not succeed. Pressure from the inside as well as public attention can disrupt your flow and focus. Learn to let go of things you cannot change, and continue onwards with your plans. Take criticism and judgement lightly but also make sure that your self- awareness meter is always on. Learn to stay focused, confident and surround yourself with a solid management team that are like-minded, resilient and share the same vision. Showing empathy when we are mis-judged or wrongfully critiqued will only show your true values and confidence in your abilities to lead.
4. Values Speak Louder Than Words
A company that stands behind its values and can prove it, is much more impactful than a company that just says they do. Creating culture, mission, vision and values statements and abiding by them is a good start. Make sure that newly promoted managers and your leadership instills these values in every aspect of their day to day interactions with employees, customers, and other stakeholders.
Aside from just standing behind your values, things said, cannot be retracted. It is important to always consult with your public relations department and an attorney on any repercussions that may result in sharing an opinion, versus a cold hard fact. Sharing a simple thought or opinion can also blur lines between professionalism and put your stakeholders, customers, employees, investors, etc. at risk for wrongful representation. It is usually better to not share something that is subjective in an interview or on social media as it can also affect the stock market, trends and can create controversy.
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