Challenges of Being a CEO: What it Takes to Lead a Company & Being a Great CEO
There is no recipe to becoming a great CEO. Joseph Bower, professor at Harvard Business School general management for 51 years, says the basic ingredients of a great CEO are intelligence, high level of energy (because management work is very demanding), persistence, patience, courage, and great communication skills which helps others see your vision.
But alongside having quality characteristics and ambition, a great CEO or business owner becomes great when they overcome their challenges the right way. It is easy to feel as though they are the only one going through the troubles they are facing, and question whether or not they are doing all the right things for their company and employees. They are not alone. A good leader is able to lead their company in the right direction through thick or thin, and still have profitable returns.
It’s not always smooth sailing for companies, and every once in a while they are faced with a trial that can make or break the company. Leaders of major enterprises like Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers couldn’t battle the recession of 2007; they were acquired and the management replaced. Good leaders recognize that the aftermath of a negative event is a formative experience that changes your company forever. They should be careful to identify any physical and emotional impact left due to the damage done to the company, and work to bring the company back on track without creating an adverse reaction from stakeholders and employees.
Hold your values higher than your title
Ken Chenault, CEO of American Express, says the best career advice he’s heard in his life was from his father who said, “Don’t forget who you are with the title or job that you hold.”
It is a mistake to identify yourself as the job title you hold. As important as your career is, you should hold your values and beliefs in higher regard. Different stages in your career demand different things from you, and it’s not so hard to drop your principles and get caught up in the stress of it all. Take a moment to stop and remember what’s important to you. What you want be is unique to every individual and defines your ideals.
People get motivated by leaders they can trust. It is important to form integrity as the foundation of the leadership position. An image of integrity is created through consistency of words and actions. Senior executives must back up their promises with action because without a bond of trust, it’s very difficult to motivate employees and keep productivity up.
Execute a clear vision
Clarity of vision must be present. Leaders must have a clearly defined plan that takes the business from where it is now to where it should be. They must have a vision of where they want to see the business in the next 5-10 years, with a watertight plan. It should be a galvanizing vision that excites and motivates the people that can actually bring about that change.
Confident leaders have backbones and have the confidence to carry their ideas through. They execute and follow up with their implemented vision. Executives with big visions but no proper strategic plan cause the company to suffer.
Women CEOs need to be tougher than men
According to a CNNMoney analysis, less than 5% of CEOs at companies in the S&P 500 are women. The gap causes many women in executive positions to battle stereotypes and sexist attitudes at the office, alongside business problems.
Amanda Mesler, former C-level executive in General Electric and Logica, says, “There’s absolutely differences in howyou are treated. You know it’s true when they say you’re a good leader, a man is tough, and a woman is a name that we won’t mention.”
To overcome workplace differences, women leaders needs to be tough and brush off negative labels that come along with being a strong, successful female in a man’s world. They should do their job no differently than their male colleagues, and work to affect their shareholder, clients, and employees positively.
There are some great networks for professional women to find role models and mentors. Plug into one and makecontacts and learn all that you can be to be successful in a male dominated area. It can be a challenge for women to balance their personal and work life, but it isn’t impossible. With a good support system at home, women can be successful at home and in their careers. They should include their family as much as possible with work; it’ll help their children and husband better understand their lifestyle and help them support her.
Envisioning the potential future of the company is hard because it requires being critical of activities that are currently very successful. It can be difficult for people to understand that things have to change, and figuring out how to do it.
The best way to counter that problem to enlist the help of external talented people (maybe even more talented than you), to identify the problem and work with you on a solution. A good leader gets great people to work together in the organization as a team; who know what change is needed and why. They should have the commitment to work on the problem and the courage to keep on going despite early results that may be difficult.