This is What Makes a CEO Great

March 3, 2016

CEOs are going to be evaluated by their numbers. But to be a great CEO you can’t really focus on the numbers. That’s a pretty big contradiction. A CEO has to keep a lot of people happy and have a lot of confidence in their vision. Here are five things that tell you how good your leadership is.

1. Ability to Hire and Retain Great Talent.

It’s important to start here. It doesn’t matter how smart you are or how cool your product is if you can’t attract and retain great talent, as a CEO you will fail. Some CEOs have an easier time with this than others. Apple, Facebook and Google have no problem attracting and retaining talent because their brands are so strong and connected with forward-thinking and success. Of course, you don’t have to be a tech titan to treat your talent well and have the word get out about how you have a great company to work for. This is called having a talent strategy, and as a CEO you can’t afford to be without one.

2. The Greatest Risk is Not Taking One.

CEOs have to be on the lookout for new ideas that tie into their business. This doesn’t mean falling for every trend; it means keeping an open mind, but not so open that all the contents within fall out. As the CEO you have to man the periscope and keep a sharp eye for what lies ahead, and that means taking risks. All great CEOs take risks. Change is constant.

3. Cultivate Dissent.

It sounds contradictory, but a CEO has to enjoy a good argument and allow for the free expression of opinion. The CEOs who feel this weakens them end up surrounding themselves with yes-men and their vision shrinks. So let the ideas flow and have enough self confidence to deal with questioning.

4. Accountability.

This is a big problem in the C-Suite. It’s not easy to own up to mistakes and appear vulnerable, but if you don’t your company simply won’t learn from its mistakes and won’t communicate it learned from its mistakes, and consumers and investors really don’t like that — not conditions you want.

5. Great Teachers.

Some CEOs have this magical ability of not just getting you to execute on their idea but making you think it’s also your idea. Great CEOs are great teachers that build people up using the natural resources that lay before them (i.e., the talents and dispositions of their employees), rather than pounding their ideas into people.

Just about anyone who’s worked under a great CEO enjoys talking about how great the experience was. It’s about more than keeping people happy, you need to have vision as well, but if you can’t get your employees to rally around that vision then it simply won’t work.

About NextGen

NextGen is the brainchild of longtime telecom professionals with nearly 50 years of experience and millions of dollars in Telecom Recruiting Services. We focus on establishing long term relationships with our clients and candidates so we can recruit the best and the brightest in the telecom industry. This ‘quality over quantity’ approach is at the heart of everything we do and has resulted in successful job placements at Fortune 1000 firms worldwide.

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