Written by: Kelsey Chalifoux
As CEO, the pressures that come with the title go far beyond the desk and center you directly in front of the public eye. Today alone, on main pages of Business Insider and CNN, are headline stories naming CEOs with both praise and extreme criticism. Media coverage on today’s F500 CEOs is rivaling A-list celebrities and turning these leaders into celebrities themselves. Their business decisions are scrutinized on front page news, so it’s never a huge surprise to see the pressure take over and have big names with big shoes to fill, exit as quickly as they came. By July of 2013, turnover of CEOs within U.S. companies had reached a three year high, up 54% from July of 2012…
Being at the top is usually a mixed bag of both accomplishment and grueling responsibility. With many revolving door CEO stories, there are undeniable characteristics and qualities that executives with staying power possess.
Get in the weeds. Understanding your operation, how the wheels turn and seeing the faces of those responsible for both the ideas and the administration, means being there and getting your hands dirty with abandon. Recently, a big-named Automotive executive announced they would be leaving the corporate headquarters and spending months on the road visiting individual branches and offices. Showing an example of a leader practice what they preach. There is no better way to gain perspective and understanding than to experience it firsthand. See your employee’s face-to-face and understand the functions of your business from the bottom, not the top.
Walk the Line. Executives not only walk a fine line, but master the ability to differentiate between passionate and emotional decision making. Hasty decisions and actions made based on emotional response are a tell-tale sign of an executive not ready for their title. It breaks logic and the trust of those around you. Approaching difficult decisions with a calm, rational thought process is essential for efficiency, but having passion for your work is contagious. Passion begins at the top and often has a “trickle down” effect, creating an office culture that inspires productivity and results.
Understand your brand. The best CEOs act as a bridge between their brand and their consumers. They understand that they are the best asset their company has in their marketing toolbox. By taking an active interest in learning your customer base and having a positive presence in front of employees, the media and your clients, makes you an indispensable resource and vital to the health and future of the organization.
Lead first. More often than not, a client comes to us with an executive opening that was last held by someone who had all the right technical skills for the role, but never gained the following of their people. Someone who was promoted internally based on skill performance and a seat in the C-suite was the natural next step, leaving those around them confused when based on pedigree alone, it didn’t work out. Time and again, I consult that the solution is to find a leader of people first and foremost. Technical training will come packaged in the background of the right leader, but an executive who knows how to consciously distinguish themselves from the mass population through creating trust, follower-ship and employee loyalty is hands-down a necessity to expand and strengthen the corporation they represent, and drive the bottom line.