No business is ever done growing. Leadership in particular has to be committed to always learning and improving. We have seen throughout history that those who rule are those who also always want to learn.
However, as we have seen from the Harvard Business Review, some 60% of companies that led their industry in the 1950s still did so in the 1990s. Yet, out of the industry leaders in 1990, 70% were no longer in existence in 2005.
This is because, as Bob Dylan famously said, the times they are changing. The strategies of the past are no longer relevant now, and leaders should think differently. The world of business is unpredictable and there is no such thing as smooth sailing anymore. Today, leaders are expected to inspire their staff to face a tidal wave head on.
So how is this possible? How can a leader do what seems to be impossible? Apparently, it is down to embodying a number of key traits.
A CEO has to have a vision. They have to know where the company is currently positioned, and where they see it going. A good example of this is Steve Jobs, who knew that mobile computing was going to change the world.
Or Bill Gates, who saw what PCs would be able to do for organizations and individuals. Both men had a vision, and this vision shaped their companies. A key thing in all successful CEOs, therefore, is having a clear and correct vision for the future.
2. Macro perspective
CEOs have to know everything that goes on in their business. They also have to understand where different teams meet and overlap. To really advance a company, however, a CEO is able to resist micro managing, no matter how tempting it may look. Micro management is left to the management team, while the CEO takes a macro perspective.
Whatever we do, we are still all human and that has to remain central. Whether you produce needles or develop space ships, nothing can be completed without people. This is why CEOs are focused and humble, and genuinely compassionate and caring. Take, for example, Infor CEO Charles Phillips whose affairs have also taken him into philanthropic work.
4. Customer centricity
CEOs have a strong focus on technology. However, they also genuinely help their customers. They don’t want to only make a profit; they want to truly address a need that their customer has. Any suggestions made by customers are always considered and shared with other stakeholders. Understanding the need of the customer and placing this in the center is vital to overall success.
5. Inspirational cultures
A CEO is nothing if not inspirational. Without being able to inspire others, their employees won’t truly engage, and the business will no longer be able to grow. For anyone to be a leader, they must be inspirational. This goes above and beyond inspiration in business. A true CEO inspires people as a person, equipping them with skills they can apply in their personal life as well.