HR & Management
3 sets of skills every CEO must have in order to succeed
4 min read
06 July 2018
Every CEO role is different because each company has its own flavour and situation. However, there are a few skills successful leaders tend to have in common.
I have grouped these skills in three categories or dimensions. The more personal ones, a group of “soft skills” and the set of “hard skills”.
The primary set are your inner skills
These are based on your personal capabilities. You have built them as your core intimate competences. You need to be, first, a strategic thinker able to design the future of your organisation. Second, you must be obsessed. Obsessed about providing great services to your customers or on improving your products.
Your determination will make a difference to the business. Third, by being positive you will create a can-do attitude across the organisation. It will make things happen instead of searching for reasons of why something is impossible.
Fourth, the CEO role is not just a job. It requires being passionate about it, which is about putting your heart behind your actions and commitments.
Finally, in these internal skills, you should get balanced. In such a highly demanding job, you need the equilibrium in your life across your body, mind and soul.
The secondary set of skills could be named as “soft” capabilities
These relate mostly to human relationships. The first of these skills is to be inspiring. Inspiration can be driven as much, or even more, with what you do as with what you say. It is about bringing all stakeholders, starting with your employees, behind the vision you have created.
Second, you should become a curious listener, always ready to ask questions to know more about the business of your customers or challenges and ideas of your team.
Third, as an extension of the previous one, you must be humble to learn. You never stop learning. As a CEO, you can lead by example creating a learning culture in the company. Be humble to change your position. It will foster a more open and agile organisation.
Fourth, the CEO should be open to expose the person behind the job. Being empathetic will allow you to understand what motivates your team or why customers buy from you. Finally, stay connected to the market, the rest of the world and build, based on those connection, a strong network of relationships which will last in the future.
The third group of skills are the ones linked to achieving results
They could be considered as the “hard skills”. First, stay focused. As time is your most scarce resource, you better spend it properly. Learn to say no by deciding actively on where you want to put your attention.
This is an important skill as you will have an infinite number of distractions in the form of meetings, calls or supposedly urgent decisions. Second, be bold. Allow time for discussion of topics, but then be decisive. You are not leading a democracy. Third, in searching for excellence, be unreasonable. A highly demanding environment with fair targets generates better outcomes.
Fourth, keep an entrepreneurial approach. Be open to challenges and to run risks, get ready to change and to fail fast. Finally, you will need to be resilient. You will face failure and defeat. Stay calm and react accordingly in order to recover from difficult situations. This will be your most important skill of all.
Mastering these sets of skills will make you a better leader and a better CEO. Enjoy the journey.
Luis Alvarez Satorre has spent over 30 years in leadership roles. Working in a changing sector driven by the forces of digital technologies has allowed him to connect with business leaders from many companies around the world. He is author of Becoming a 3D CEO (£14.99 Panoma Press)