1. Always do the right thing regardless of sentiment and never compromise your core values. If you cannot build trust and engender confidence with your stakeholders you cannot succeed. No amount of talent can overcome illegal, immoral or otherwise ill-advised actions.
2. Excellent Decision Making Skills/ Decisiveness: As a CEO you will live or die by the quality of the decisions you make. These decisions are like the ship’s mast, every bit that you do steers the ship in a certain direction. He/she must also know when to back down and be able to accept it when he realises its a mistake.
3. If you cannot focus you cannot perform at the level necessary to remain in the C-suite for very long. The ability to do nothing more than understand, and lock-onto priorities will place you in the top 10% of all executives.
4. Inexperience, a lack of maturity, needing to be the center of attention, not recognizing limitations, a lack of judgment, an inferior knowledge base, or any number of other common mistakes made by rookie CEOs can cause your house of cards to fall. If you don’t have the experience personally, hire it, contract it, but by all means acquire it. Great CEOs surround themselves with tier-one talent and the best advisors money can buy. They don’t make uniformed or ill-advised decisions in a vacuum.
5. Great CEOs possess a strong presence and bearing. They are unflappable individuals that never let you see them sweat (unless of course it serves a purpose). Everything from how they carry themselves to how they speak and dress messages that they are in charge.
6. Great CEOs have a strong bias to action. They don’t rest upon past accomplishments and are always seeking to improve through change and innovation. In today’s fast paced and competitive environment those CEOs who don’t openly embrace change will often be shown the door prior to the expiration of their initial employment contract.
7. Great CEOs understand branding at every level. They seek to build not only a dominant corporate brand, but also a strong personal brand. CEOs that are not well branded on a personal basis, or who let their corporate brand fall into decline will not survive.
8. Great CEOs have a boundless amount of energy. They are positive in their outlook, and their attitude is contagious. A low energy CEO is not motivating, convincing or credible.
9. Great CEOs have a deep understanding of the business and a strong orientation toward profit. Great CEOs possess what often appears to be a sixth sense or an almost instinctive feel for what the company needs to do to make money and remain competitive.
10. Great CEOs have a nose for talent…They understand how to recruit, develop and deploy talent while focusing on applying the best talent to the best opportunities. They also know when it’s time to make changes and cut losses as needed.
11. Great CEOs know how to engender trust, know when and how to share information, and are expert listeners. They develop strong and positive corporate cultures driven to performance by aligned motivations. They can quickly diagnose whether the organization is performing at full potential, delivering on commitments, and whether the company is changing and growing versus just operating.
12. Great CEOs possess a powerful motivation to increase their knowledge base and to convert their learning into actionable initiatives. They question, challenge, confront and are never accepting of the status quo.
13. Great CEOs are also great thinkers both at the strategic and tactical level. They are quick on their feet and know how to get to the root of an issue faster than anyone else.
14. Regardless of the geographical boundaries of the current business model great CEOs think globally. Limited thinking results in limited results. Whether global thinking is applied to capital formation, supply-chain issues, business development, strategic partnering, distribution, or any number of other areas, those CEOs who don’t grasp the importance of thinking globally will not endure. Great CEOs are externally oriented, hungry for knowledge of the world and adept at connecting developments and spotting patterns.
15. Great CEOs refuse to lose…They have an insatiable appetite for accomplishment and results and while they may reengineer or change direction they will never lose sight of the end game.
16. The decisions and strategy of a CEO will only be as effective if they have the implementation and monitoring skills to execute ideas and follow through. The great CEOs will only recruit managers that has proven themselves time and again in seeing through a project or transmitting a vision into reality effectively.
17. Too many CEOs end up just managing their companies in the same pond. Great CEOs will always be aware of the need to move up to the next level. Always be concerned about your business model and platform of activities, building initiatives or recruiting talent to scale up the business.
18. Too many CEOs are just intent on finding ways to reward themselves. A great CEO will devise ways to reward performers in a big way. Loyalty can only go so far. To build great companies, you need a core team that is well rewarded to see through the long term vision, and be paid well in the process. You cannot build value into the company when talent keeps going out the door – there has to be continuity.
19: You need to have a fair and strong board of directors and not staffed by cronies. You can have a great CEO but he/she will not be effective if the BoD gets in the way. The BoD is there to oversee not micro manage. Just as a great CEO will be able to empower talented employees to achieve greater heights, so too the BoD must empower the CEO to do his/her job.
20. Great CEOs are prepared to create their own luck by cultivating an ability to see opportunities for their company and to make the deals that convert those opportunities into realities. Some things that may seem like amazing foresight are actually the result of the hard work and discipline it takes to constantly look forward to build a successful company. Great CEOs must also constantly develop new products to build and retain a customer base. Foresight is also the ability to hire and retain the right people, looking ahead toward the growth of the company.