How to be an Effective CEO

Leadership is difficult. As a leader, every day is different, and as the fulcrum of a business, you’ll quickly learn to think on your feet or fall behind. Taking on CEO responsibilities is not for the faint of heart, but anybody with the mettle to last will gain a new perspective on their life and on their work. There’s no magic bullet for being an effective CEO, but there are certainly a few things you can do to improve your leadership of a company.

Honesty

If you want to stay as a leader, you need to keep your credibility. It’s easy to go into a CEO role determined to be as open and transparent with your employees and stakeholders as possible. Similarly, it’s always encouraging to share the positive progress that your business is making.

More difficult, however, is dealing with hardships or setbacks. Not wanting to be the bearer of bad news, many CEOs twist facts or simply omit any information indicating that a business is going through a rough time. To be an effective CEO, address problems and try to present solutions. You don’t need to have all of the answers, but being upfront about it can save you from mistrust and frustration later on.

Expertise

Educate yourself on the industry that you work in. This may seem obvious, but changing trends in technology can lead to disruption and potentially offset your business. Always be on the lookout for potential change, and try to learn as much as you can.

Know your business. Know your competitive advantage. Know your competitors. Know your industry, inside and out. Be a font of knowledge for your company to look to.

Efficiency

Being a CEO means doing more work to keep a company moving forward. With only a certain number of hours in the day, you’re inevitably limited in what you can accomplish. Improve your productivity by minimizing time-wasting meetings, stay off your email as much as possible, and keep your workspace free of distractions.

Keeping a well-updated calendar is also critical when it comes to segmenting your day. Know how to prioritize, as CEOs don’t have the leeway to “just wing it.”

Delegation

You may be in charge as a CEO, but that doesn’t make you a superhero capable of solving all of the company’s problems. Instead, surround yourself with competent individuals you trust to do their jobs well, and give them responsibilities of their own to fulfill. You may find that your business runs very well without the need for micromanagement.

Additionally, empower them to make their own decisions. As CEO, you should not need for every decision to flow through you; this only wastes your time and the company’s time. It’s a case of mutual trust for both you and your employees.

Culture

“Culture trumps everything” is a common phrase said by many professionals these days, and for good reason. Creating a strong office culture in which employees feel happy and comfortable leads to greater productivity and more open exchange of ideas.

Gain the trust of your employees and spend time with them. Learn what they enjoy and don’t enjoy about their jobs, and adjust office culture accordingly. Keep your employees’ needs in mind and they will be more committed to the company’s mission.

Traits All Great CEOs Share

With any business, it’s vital that CEOs focus on being effective leaders and avoid letting the desire for more profit overshadow their talent for leadership. To be a successful CEO, there are certain traits that are imperative to possess in order to lead the company and work toward its future success. Without these vital traits, a CEO may be able to hold the position, but he won’t be considered one of the “great” CEOs.

They are self-aware

Even though you’ve made it to the top of the company, it doesn’t mean you’re infallible. Great CEOs know that they sometimes make mistakes and understand their own weaknesses (as well as their strengths!). Knowing where they do and do not excel allows a CEO to delegate tasks as necessary. Through being self-aware, a CEO can also handle constructive criticism and improve in different areas.

They are optimistic

A negative attitude can bring the entire company down, so it’s important that a CEO displays optimism, even if there are some issues. Keeping a positive attitude and showing that optimism to employees will encourage them to look on the bright side and work toward finding a solution, instead of unproductively worrying about a problem.

They are realistic

Just as optimism is important, so is being realistic. Great CEOs know what to expect from their employees and know what is too much to ask. A company doesn’t become successful overnight and issues cannot be immediately resolved, so a CEO must know what a realistic timeline is for the business, as well as what expectations she should have for the business, given its resources.

They care

One of the most important traits a person can have in any position is showing others that they care. When a CEO is genuinely interested in his employees and concerned about their well-being, it translates into him valuing the company. This sense of value often inspires employees to work better. The best way to show you care is listening to people when they talk and making an effort to sincerely understand what they’re saying.

They are risk-takers

Generally, risk is involved if you want a business to show serious growth. CEOs understand the importance of risk-taking, but also know how much risk is appropriate for their individual business. Taking unnecessary risks is bad and can endanger the company.

They are learners

Great CEOs are always learning. Whether it’s how to better work with employees or developing a new skill through classes or a conference, truly fantastic CEOs make a point to keep learning throughout their professional careers. You can always learn something new and you’d be surprised what skills might benefit your career.