Being a CEO or business leader is among the most challenging and demanding job titles out there. Some say the most successful leaders are born with the “right” skills and personality traits. Others contend a strong-willed, ambitious individual who wants to succeed can learn and acquire the necessary attributes for success.
Wherever you fall on the scale, here are six personality traits that virtually all successful CEOs display in their careers:
1. Passion. Call it “drive” or “a thirst for success,” but it’s hard to think of any effective business leader who doesn’t display a clear-cut passion for his or her work. Passion keeps you focused on getting things done, rather than finding excuses not to act. Passion means aiming at an objective and attaining it, and then moving beyond.
2. Quick and bold decision-making. Top-performing CEOs aren’t daunted by the fact that they have to make critical decisions on a daily basis. They become adept at sizing up a situation, analyzing the pros and cons, and deciding on a course of action to keep the business moving forward.
“Clear decision making also sets off a positive chain reaction,” notes business writer Will Yakowicz. “When a leader makes a clear decision it inspires confidence across the company, sets priorities and decreases the chance of competing goals getting in the way.”
3. Refusal to make excuses. Effective business leaders understand making excuses is a waste of time and energy. If things go wrong, they accept responsibility and look for ways to learn from the situation. This also means they’re unafraid of failure. Without taking risks, change and innovation simply aren’t possible.
4. Willingness to learn everything about the business and industry. While it’s not necessary to be an “expert” in all facets of the company, successful business leaders possess more than a passing knowledge of every department and operation. This not only helps when it comes to making key decisions, but it leads to a dynamic, all-encompassing vision of growth that integrates different functions into a cohesive whole.
5. Outstanding communications skills. Great CEOs know how to communicate their message without getting lost in company jargon or by puffing up their own egos. They understand the need to be absolutely clear when addressing various stakeholders—and how to frame their message so different audiences (investors, employees, customers, vendors, and so on) “get” what’s being said and know what to do with that information. They know how to inspire and motivate—essential qualities of leadership, regardless of your business or industry.
6. Unafraid to get in the trenches. Effective CEOs refuse to hide away in their executive suites. As much as their schedules permit, they take every opportunity to work (or at least observe) their teams in action. It’s the only way to get first-hand knowledge of what’s happening on the company’s frontline.
These business leaders “are right there” with employees, “balancing the priorities and inspiring their team to help win the next opportunity,” says Jeanne M. Sullivan at VentureBeat. “They are quick to sort out mistakes in a ‘blameless autopsy’ so that success may be achieved the next time.”
Effective management is not something that can be attained overnight - in fact, this is something that many business owners continually work on. We asked owners how they would rate themselves as a leader of their company and only 5% rated themselves a perfect 10. Check out TAB's PULSE Survey on Business Leadership for more information on this topic!