Great markings of a CEO?

Having spent many years working for various managing executives and directors as a financial manager, I thought I would document the great markings of a CEO. Something that most new line managers will struggle with and what I found is needed in making a great Chief Executive Officer.

Firstly one must consider that we are all human and so pretty much subservient to the daily change in conditions. But leadership inspiration can be saught in many places such as Solomon or Genghis Khan or Abraham Lincoln or perhaps even John D. Rockefeller. There are also so many great quotes qualities of a great leader but here are some qualities I have admired as a manager working under them.

They are:

  • Creating trust – Building a relationship with people is really about creating trust. Trust can either be created by walking your talk or by sharing reasons for decisions. People need to know reasons why something is being done that way and understand their place in it.
  • Honesty – Criticism is part of business, get over it! Second one needs to be respectfully honest to a person that is not behaving properly. Some people may have better options but they also may be for the short term.
  • Creating value and caring about the client – you cannot create value without caring about the client. Finding out more about the client means finding that middle ground. The more loyal the client becomes, the more sustainable your business becomes and the more reference clients you will receive. Creating situations that will optimize your value helps.
  • Business knowledge and eagerness to learn – Anyone can sell a product to another if that person needs it or desires it. But business knowledge is more about understanding your business ecosystem, your constraints and potentially conflicting solutions that could circumvent your business disadvantage. Increasing returns while minimizing risk can be both an art and a science as you try to better understand the client’s quality boundaries. Don’t be afraid to learn and challenge your perceptions. You don’t know what is behind a cause or action from a client, etc.
  • Leaning on trust – Once you have created trust, it becomes easier to lean on it. Similar to a ship sailing across the wind. Trust will give you business more speed. Yes you can try self propel, but leaning against the wind will give you much more velocity. Learn to find good people you can trust or that if your corner! E.g. a good attorney for legal, a good accountant, someone in marketing and a good contact person without your client business. If you have a product or building something new, make sure you find a good mentor that believes in your project and has good experience in that area!
  • Economics – make sure you know what you are doing and have sufficient capability to deliver the product or service in the most economical manner (creating an end through a scarce means). Many businesses are destroyed because they do not utilize the most economic method or do not consider all the options. Some options are more expensive but then one does expect a very good service. Check what kind of client you are dealing with and build a solution that is geared appropriately for them correctly.
  • Develops good processes and procedures – a good leader knows that setting good processes and procedures in a business will make the business more self enabling and allow for managing deviance. For example a business without a good credit approval process could risk losing millions on a fictitiously created client. Good leaders both understand the necessity of good procedures and also sometimes the limitations thereof too.
  • Always be respectful and be prepared for things going pear shaped – life is fall of surprises! Don’t think things are always going to go your way. Keep building and make sure each move prepare things ahead of you for the move after that one. Create your own bridge as you walk.
  • Discretion – Avoid compromise. People are always making judgements of others. Make sure your decisions are defendable or reasonable. Always side on what is reasonable but also try consider the unknown variables! Sometimes judgements will be difficult but then it may be a good idea to test the intentions of others (a great example is the story of Solomon and the two mothers).
  • Hard work and empowerment! You cannot exceed expectations without working hard and empowering your staff to do as well. Don’t always trust technology, it sometimes breaks. “Play your best tennis on the court, not in it.”

I hope you enjoyed. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to pop me an email.

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July 16, 2018