Traits Of Successful CEOs

I’ve had the pleasure of working with some the best CEOs and business owners in DFW through our Renaissance Executive Forums CEO groups. I’ve seen them face amazing challenges from starting up, buying and selling companies, to a global pandemic. Here are a few things they all have in common.

They Are Decisive

Traits Of Successful CEOs

These CEOs do not necessarily stand out for making perfect decisions all the time – they stand out for being decisive. They make decisions sooner, faster, and with greater conviction – even amid ambiguity and incomplete information.

Delaying a decision while you seek the “perfect answer” keeps your teams from setting clear priorities, creates bottlenecks and frustrated teams who then become overcautious themselves or leave to find a new place to work that gives them confidence for a future.

A bad decision can often be better than a lack of direction. Most decisions can be undone but not making a decision keeps the entire team frozen when they should be moving toward improving the situation.

“A wrong decision may be better than no decision at all.”

Wise CEOs get input from their teams but you will never have enough data points to assure the results you want. You need to be decisive enough to empower your team to take the next step, assess the results, adjust and try again (being agile).

Consider the impact of a wrong decision vs the impact of not making a decision. More CEOs are fired over hesitating to make a decision and lead the change, than those who make the wrong decision. You wouldn’t be the CEO if you didn’t have a record of knocking it out of the park so remember that and lead with confidence.

They Get Buy-in From The Team

Traits Of Successful CEOsGreat CEOs know they need buy-in among their teams and other key stakeholders. They know what matters most and lead their teams to stay focused on that. They bring the team along with them as they lead the change by using clear and compelling communication and radical transparency.

They often face setbacks and they drive change but CEOs with a “Growth Mindset” see these as opportunities for the entire team to learn and grow.

They identify the potential detractors who can suck the energy out of the efforts. They let these people know they are a key part of the plan but at the end of the day we are going in this direction and you expect them to get on board. These CEOs are not concerned about being “liked” but rather instilling confidence that they will lead the team to success even if that means painful changes that cause discomfort.

Successful CEOs do not shy away from conflict in the pursuit of their goals and have the ability to handle conflicting viewpoints. They actually invite their teams to engage in thoughtful disagreement. They give their teams a place to be heard and weigh the input based on the expertise and past results of each team member (an “Idea Meritocracy as Ray Dalio puts it).

Getting a consensus is helpful but can keep you from being decisive (see point one above) and often you end up with the lowest common denominator that meets everyone’s concerns but will not achieve the results you desire. Remember you are the CEO for a reason.Traits Of Successful CEOs

They Adapt To Change

As a CEO you are constantly faced with situations where a playbook simply does not exist. CEOs have to divide their attention among short, medium, and long-term perspectives, but adaptable CEOs keep a constant eye on the long term so they don’t get off track.

Knowing where you ultimately want to allow us to make better decisions for today. This is why one of the most important roles a CEO will play is creating a clear and compelling vision of the future that the team will stay focused and hopeful about.

They scan a diverse source of data, finding relevance in the information that may at first seem unrelated to their businesses but allows them to sense change earlier and make strategic moves to take advantage of it before others do.

They Deliver Results

These CEOs have the ability to reliably produce results. Their Board of Advisors and Investors love the consistent results, and their employees like the comfort of knowing things will always work out.

These CEO consistently follow through on their commitments; under-promise and over-deliver allows them consistently meet expectations. Not to say they don’t aim for the fence but they are realistic that it takes a team to deliver and base-hits move-in runs too.

They pay attention to the numbers and look to continuously move the needle in each team. Being a realist allows you to create plans your team can deliver on and keep the trust of all the key stakeholders. They use KPIs and keep an eye on cash flow at all times. They establish metrics that really mean something and expect results each month. Most importantly, they surrounded themselves with strong teams who get the vision and have the ability and desire to achieve results.

They Are Always Getting Better

Traits Of Successful CEOsLastly, our CEO Peer Group members are never done learning. They have a passion for excellence and a desire to be their best in both their personal and professional lives.

If these are the types of leaders you want to be around, contact me and let’s talk about finding you a seat at the table of one of our groups here in DFW.

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