10 Signs of a Great Future CEO
- You can’t be a perfectionist
Every single organization, no matter what industry it is, there’s always going to be a department that’s run by people who are perfectionist. They want everything to be perfect. I’m talking product development, whatever they’re designing must be perfect. There are many departments that have a need for people that are perfectionists, but sometimes perfectionists are also extremely sensitive, and if they’re not happy with their product they refuse to release it. As a CEO, you can’t seek perfection, there’s a different department for you to be perfect in. You’re seeking magic while hiring people on the team that seek perfection. It’s a weird dynamic because if the people under the CEO is working relentlessly to make things perfect, they will never be satisfied, however, it is the CEO’s job to bring the product or service to the market when it is “almost perfect.” To be a great CEO at the top, you got to avoid seeking perfection.
- Coaching & challenging people efficiently
Many times, you look at the people you have on your team and you will identify the group of people that are very good at giving feedback, coaching and challenging their peers. It’ll be a simple as a certain individual and saying, “hey guys, listen, what we do is great, but I think we can take it to a whole different level.” Or “Mary, why don’t you give spread the energy that you typically have, I think we can do better.” What do you guys say, one more time? Or they’ll pull somebody aside and say “you know, John, I don’t know what’s going on with you lately, but I’m not feeling like you’re giving your best. What’s going on? Is there something we don’t know about that you’re frustrated with outside the work environment?” Those conversations are a must for anybody that one day becomes a CEO. Most people avoid conflict and don’t like the friction that comes with it, but to become a CEO, you will have a lot of difficult conversations with investors, executives, salespeople, support vendors, partners and so on. You need to know how to give feedback, challenge and push people.
- Rallying people together
This next is like giving feedback, coaching and challenging people. This is rallying people. As the CEO you’re rallying for something, whether it’s a new campaign, a new project or deal. You’re rallying people around your vision. CEO’s are very good at rallying their team. A great leader knows how to rally people in a way that brings everyone together and gives people the feeling that they can come together and go do something that otherwise would be very hard
This next quality is hard to measure, yet it is very easy to know intuitively. I promise you the leaders at the top measure it in one way or another. Let me give you a situation. “Hypothetically, it’s Saturday, five o’clock and you’re trying to get ahold of some people because something happened. A crisis, something needs to be taken care of fast. Who are the three people that you know that if you text, email or call they will get back to you almost instantly? Who?” Those three people. Just think about the quality those three people have, they’re reliable, it’s hard to measure in a quantifiable way, yet it is something every organization values at the highest level. I did an exercise; I grabbed the paper and pen. I started writing a list of all the names of people that are the most reliable that I do business with. Then I start ranking them.
For you reading this, if I asked the person you work with, would you be on the list of being the most reliable? If not, just know that although this value that cannot be measured, it has a very high level of importance to a board or an organization that may one day consider hiring you as a CEO.
- Constantly recruiting the right people
As a CEO, you’re always recruiting. The former chief talent officer of Netflix said the one thing that was so special about working with Reed Hastings from Netflix was that he was always recruiting. During her fifth year in business with Netflix as their chief talent officer. She comes into work one day and she notices that reed is recruiting the former HR and chief talent officer of Yahoo and says, “wait a minute, what are you doing? That’s my position,” then Hastings says, “I know it’s your position, but what if something happens to you tomorrow, how am I going to replace you? I need to be ready to replace you.” See, that’s an example of a person that realized how to build a $150 billion company, you are constantly recruiting. If there’s one ability that you got to have to constantly win and grow your organization, it is the ability to recruit talent that wants to come and work for you and your organization.
- Calm under pressure
One of the greatest times to see who the strong people are is when a crisis takes place. Most people panic, however, some people stay calm, the people that manage to stay calm are the ones that become great CEO’s down the line. If you are a CEO you need to look around and spot the people that are calm. Don’t let crises happen without you getting to see what people are made up of. Earlier there was a crisis, I mean shi*t hit the fan. People were panicking, yet one person was calm. The person started going through the next steps that had to be done. “person x call person z” “get on a call with person x” “notify person y about what’s going on” “Let me go see what I can do about this.” “Let me go see what I can do about that.” One person being able to stay calm helps everybody else stay calm and people perform better. They’re poised. And if you’re going to one day lead an organization you must be the person that knows how to stay calm under pressure.
- Being able to read people
Being able to read people is crucial as a leader and CEO of an organization. Being able to read people gives you the ability to understand what people are trying to say. It gives you a better understanding of the feeling in the room. It’s the ability to read a competitor, the ability to read a new hire. It’s the ability to read somebody that’s not happy with what they are currently working on, this will allow you to reposition them to get more output from them. You can go read all the books you want, but a part of it is intuition. A part of it as vibration. A part of it is having been in an environment that’s chaotic with a lot of pressure. For some it’s family, sports, military or challenging work environments. One skill set you are going to need to be a CEO is you got to learn how to read people.
- Being a good listener
Next one, you’ve probably heard a million different times, but it’s listening carefully. Listen and not just listening to what people are saying, also listen to what they aren’t saying. I literally listen to what people are telling me and I’m trying to process it and internalize it. Sometimes you can learn more by what people avoid talking about compared to what they do say. Listening is a very big skill to have as you move up, the more you move up, the less you’ll be talking. You will be doing more listening, believe it or not. I know this sounds strange. You may be making most of the decisions but you’re doing less talking and more listening as you are gathering the facts from different people before making a decision. The ability to listen is a very valuable skill set to have.
- Take critical feedback & improve
This one’s interesting. As you rise within a company or start a company you’ll be working with people on multiple levels. This means people will be criticizing and voicing concerns on all sides. That is why it is critical that you learn to take critical feedback and improve on it. Some people get criticized and then shut down for a few days before they bounce back. As a leader you need to be able to take the criticism and act on it or ignore it, then move forward. You cannot be sensitive as a CEO, there will be a lot of things that hurt you in one way or another. You need to have the attitude where you get feedback and think “Dang, let me find a way to improve this.” or “This part’s right, I can improve in this area.” Only with this attitude will you be a great future CEO.
This last one is very interesting. In business you need to be strategic in order to beat your competition, launch proper campaigns and to think ahead. Back in the day when I was the CEO with less than 20 employees, I would eat lunch with them in the conference room. I would ask people about current events and see how they responded. “What do you think about this?” or “What do you think about that?” People would answer with different opinions from their different perspectives. Then there would be someone who would answer something and back it up step by step. These were the people that impressed me as it really showed me their strategical thinking and how they were able to look ahead and project obstacles that would come down the road.
Remember thinking 1-3 moves ahead is amateur level, 4-5 moves is a pro, 6-10 moves is a master and 11-15 moves grandmaster. It’s very hard to get to the 11-15 moves range. But just like in chess, the people that know 11-15 moves ahead end up playing in a whole different league than the rest of people. Recommended video 21 differences between managers and leaders.
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