5 Fundamental Tips to Become a CEO
Written by Michele Shams
CEO, Koury Engineering
If you are determined to become a CEO, then I don’t need to tell you just how different of a breed we really are. In summary, we are the professionals who need to look at things from different perspectives to drive positive change both within the business and outside of it. Furthermore, we are the ones who have to be positioned, ready, and effective to spearhead any and all obstacles that will inevitably arise. Lastly, as a person at the top of the corporate ladder, we are the ones who have to call the shots to steer the business in a favorable direction, all while inspiring our employees along the way.
With all that being said, you may already have a good idea of what a CEO role entails. However, are you truly ready to take it on? Because becoming a CEO is not for the faint of heart, below are five fundamental tips that will not only help you optimally prepare, but succeed when you ascend into this prestigious role.
1. Foundational Experience
The first element to become a CEO is to have a solid foundation to build your skills and reputation on. For example, the likelihood of you going from a sales associate to a CEO is very slim. However, if you work your way up the ladder over time and prove yourself as a leader, the opportunity for becoming a CEO becomes much more promising. Some pivotal components CEO hiring personnel review include:
• Profit and loss proficiency
• experience outside of the home market
• demonstration to successfully function in more than one sector of a business
2. Personal Readiness
Let’s say you have the experience already. Next is ensuring that you are personally ready for a CEO role. For instance, hiring personnel are going to analyze your core values, beliefs, personal skills, and characteristics to see if they align properly with the position. They want to have a CEO who operates with integrity, thinks strategically, and is open to new ideas to better the organization as a whole. They also want someone whose personal values match the business’s core values because that is what is going to influence the brand image and business direction. For some more insight, if you feature any of the characteristics below, you are on the right track:
• challenges yourself consistently
• persistent and resilient
• not impulsive
3. Network Readiness
If you checked off points #1 and #2, then that is excellent! But now you have to focus on if you are ready from a networking perspective. This means having a respected influence outside of the organization and a strong network of other leading professionals that can sway your business in ideal directions. CEOs understand that more brainstorming minds are better than one, and conversing with other professionals outside of the organization to gain new insights and solve problems is highly valuable. In turn, they (aka you) would offer the same type of support to help others succeed as well. Overall, this is a networking relationship that should be strengthened prior to becoming a CEO if you want to be fully prepared as soon as you begin.
4. Relationship Readiness
Semi-tying into the networking point, you will also need to be ready on other relationship angles, both inside and outside of the organization. This is because communication and working with others effectively is the heart of what it means to be a CEO. You have to have the interpersonal skills to maintain/control good and bad relationships, attract new talent, and diminish pushing monumental assets away. And how CEO hiring personnel surface this in candidates is by reviewing if you follow through with your commitments, are open to being told you are wrong, and engagingly listen to what others have to say. If you can showcase this, you are already on the right side of the spectrum to becoming a CEO.
5. Knowing Your CEO Leadership Approach
Lastly, it is pinnacle that you nailed down the CEO leadership approach you want to embody before heading into the interviewing room. Knowing this is how you can guide how you will operate, lead, and address organizational decisions. For reference, there are five different ways leadership approaches CEOs can adopt:
1. The Strategy Approach: These CEOs believe that their most valuable role is to test, create, and design long-term strategies. These people have the unique ability to allocate organizational resources and spend their time partaking in activities that are intended to ascertain the organization’s future.
2. The Human-Assets Approach: CEOs in this approach believe that the formulation of strategy belongs close to the markets within the business units. They tend to focus more on promoting the organization’s values, behaviors, and attitudes while managing the growth of the employees.
3. The Expertise Approach: Expertise approach CEOs think that the most vital responsibility they have is disseminating and selecting expertise personnel to build a competitive advantage. These professionals devote most of their time cultivating high-end resources, systems, procedures, and promotion policies to reward experts across the business functions to provoke development and attract more like-minded talent.
4. The Box Approach: These CEOs strive to use most of their value towards communicating, monitoring, and creating explicit controls that ensure predictable experiences and behaviors for both employees and customers. They aim to influence a risk-free environment to provide a consistent positive experience for everyone and tend to work with other CEOs to establish detailed policies and procedures that reinforce their desired behaviors.
5. The Change Approach: Lastly, change approach CEOs believe that the most critical role they can play is to develop an environment that is continuously reinventing. Even if some of these changes cause confusion and can surface mistakes, they feel that transformation and manifestation is the way to reach new levels of success when done correctly and mindfully.
Final Thoughts – Not Just Another Leadership Role
As a final note, the key thing to take away here for anyone aspiring to become a CEO is that it is not going to be just another leadership role. Becoming a CEO is more than just leading a department or overseeing a group of people. You are transforming from taking responsibility for a segment of an organization to being the one who is responsible for the entire ownership and direction of the company. This means your decisions can either result in the business’s success or failure, and much of the choices you have to make are made via calculated risks within unknown territory, all while stakeholders observe.
Nonetheless, if you have the right mindset, experience, and capitalized strengths, then this just may be the perfect fit for you. Even if this is your dream role and you lack in some areas, understand that you can work on your readiness to feel more confident down the road. In the end, I’ll leave you with this; becoming a CEO is no easy path, but by leveraging the tips above and staying mindful of the larger picture, it may just be one of the most rewarding journeys you will ever experience.