CEO Effective Leadership Strategies
CEO Effective Leadership Strategies
CEO Effective Leadership Strategies
Becoming a CEO brings you to the top of the career ladder – but having reached the top step doesn’t mean your career development is over. The role of CEO is peerless, sitting apart from the other executives and C-suite leaders. CEOs have the most influence on the company’s performance, finding themselves at the epicentre of an all-consuming role. The reality is that most CEOs don’t meet their performance expectations within their first 18 months.
As a CEO, you’ll come under the pressure of the expectations of your fellow executives, shareholders, employees, and customers. When a CEO steps into a new role, the timer starts ticking down to their first review. Time is of the essence for CEOs with most S&P 500 CEOs remaining in post for an average time of nine years.
Whether you’re a part-time CEO or being promoted to CEO for the first time, you’ll want to work on growing and developing your leadership skills from day one. While you’ll want to develop the qualities of a successful CEO, you need to take actionable steps, including executing growth strategies and building your internal leadership team for the future.
At Exec Capital, we’re passionate about helping the next generation of CEOs unleash their potential. This guide deep dives into the qualities of a successful CEO and the leadership strategies that every executive should develop while heading up the career ladder.
Exec Capital is a boutique executive recruitment agency based in London. We offer traditional executive search and executive headhunting services to provide a 360-degree approach to recruitment. Join our talent pool today by contacting our team at 020 3287 2365.
How to Become a Successful CEO
We’re breaking down every aspect of the leadership strategies and qualities that create a successful CEO. You can start developing these early on in your executive career or at any stage during your tenure as CEO.
- Visionary Leader
The CEO sits as the decision-maker within a company. It’s their input, strategy, and decision-making that determines whether a company can achieve its short and long-term goals. A successful CEO will develop a vision for their role, taking on board the expectations and needs of the company’s stakeholders, including investors, employees, and the board.
A visionary CEO will consider the purpose and strengths of the company, working to develop new means of value creation. Trend forecasting and exploring new opportunities are crucial for CEOs to maximise their success. CEOs need to provide a reference point to assess their success. The best way of doing this is by developing OKRs (objectives and key results) in partnership with other C-suite executives, including the CFO using KPIs and data insights.
- Make Bold Decisions Early
Don’t be afraid to make bold decisions early on in your tenure as CEO. It sets the tone for your leadership style early on, allowing you to hit the ground running. Make bold moves like divestitures, resource allocation, capital expenditure, and acquisitions as part of your initial growth or restructuring strategy as CEO.
Research by McKinsey & Co shows that CEOs who take these proactive steps early in their tenure outperform their counterparts who delay such moves.
- Ensure Organisational Alignment
Successful CEOs create a sense of cohesion within their organisations, bringing discipline to their performance management by aligning departments and strategies. Determine whether your existing team is the right fit and move employees accordingly to ensure that the best talent is in place for each role. Half of senior executives point to a failure to move underperforming talent early on as their biggest regret as a CEO.
- Talent Management
The best CEOs make talent management one of their top priorities, from implementing succession strategies to promoting employee retention. You want to take a methodical approach to talent management, ensuring value creation by placing the best talent in each role. Developing a talent pipeline is crucial to ensuring long-term success, requiring investment into employee development with training and mentorship.
Succession planning also includes the CEO’s own role. CEOs should choose a viable successor from within the company’s leadership team and prepare them for a seamless transition to the role.
- Setting the Company Culture
Salaries and work benefits aren’t the only things that executives and professionals are looking for when moving to new companies. The company’s culture is ranked as one of the most important deciding factors for candidates in competitive industries.
CEOs should be proactive in setting the company culture and go beyond employee engagement to do so. Successful CEOs are willing to learn and adapt to create a proactive company culture that produces more efficient outcomes and happier employees, in turn boosting employee retention. Organisations with a healthy company culture deliver better results with more value creation than companies where internal culture isn’t developed.
- Engaging with the Board
CEOs can promote a forward-thinking agenda throughout their company by positively engaging with the board. They’ll collaborate closely with board members, providing opportunities for them to meaningfully engage in areas beyond their traditional fiduciary responsibilities. Board members can use their experience and insight to recommend changes to the company’s strategy, culture, talent acquisition, and communications.
Board members are uniquely positioned to offer advice without being seen to compromise the authority of the CEO and other executives. An effective CEO with engage board members by involving them in management activities regularly, including strategy updates and talent reviews.
- Management Involvement in Decision Making
Effective CEOs grant their managers a sense of autonomy within the company, encouraging them to become leaders within their departments and throughout the organisation. CEOs should involve management in decision-making to optimise results and promote innovative thinking throughout every department. Managers who are actively involved in decision-making feel more valued and grow in confidence, leading to higher levels of employee retention.
Implement quarterly strategy reviews as an opportunity to involve management in high-level decision-making outside of their usual departmental work. Managers should be invited to voice their strategy ideas to encourage cross-departmental collaboration.
Managers should be encouraged to drive decision-making and implement KPIs to track their success, promoting greater accountability.
- Talent Development and Board Composition
A vital part of a CEO’s effective leadership strategy is to seek balance with talent development, identifying what areas of expertise and experience the company needs going forward. The CEO can also take this approach to the board composition, ensuring that their expertise aligns with the company’s future strategy and goals.
New board members should be taken through a complete onboarding process and given opportunities to expand their knowledge on aspects of the company’s development, such as its competitors and changing technology. First-time board members need a structured onboarding and a full introduction to the company to become effective board members. The CEO should be actively involved in this process to develop a collaborative relationship.
- Regular, well-structured meetings
It’s easy for things to fall by the wayside. An effective CEO will put communication at the heart of their leadership strategy with well-structured meetings on a regular basis.
Companies where employees feel that meetings are unproductive, or a ‘waste of time’ experience a drop off in productivity. CEOs can avoid this by ensuring that there is an agenda in place for every meeting, providing opportunities for managers to give feedback and offer insight into challenges and potential strategy changes. Regular meetings create a positive company culture, promoting communication between departments and across employee levels.
CEOs will also want to conduct regular one-on-one meetings with managers to ensure open dialogue and to nurture future potential C-suite talent. It’s an opportunity for performance reviews and to offer mentorship for managers. CEOs should also encourage other executives to host one-on-one meetings with the managers who report directly to them.
- Big Picture Approach
Effective CEOs take a big-picture approach, looking at corporate social responsibility as an opportunity for more than just positive PR. Today’s CEOs should champion a wider purpose for the company that feeds into its mission statement and wider marketing.
This ‘big picture approach’ should trickle down into the company’s day-to-day strategy and practices. If sustainability is a priority, CEOs should focus on ensuring ethical labour practices and minimising the company’s carbon footprint.
Delegating is one thing that CEOs can struggle with. However, delegation is the best way to create a culture of accountability and trust with managers and other executives. CEOs should have a trust-based relationship with their executives, delegating tasks and responsibilities to subordinates to free up their time to focus on other tasks.
Delegation makes it easier for managers and executives to have priorities and goals to focus on with trackable KPIs to monitor their success on a quarterly and annual basis. These managers will work with their team and wider department to oversee and carry out the relevant tasks without active involvement from the CEO.
Effective CEOs prioritise delegation to improve their leadership skills and boost the company’s performance and effectiveness.
The Qualities of a Successful CEO
The qualities that a CEO brings to the role as just as vital as the strategy decisions that they make. Effective CEOs will view their career journey as an opportunity for continuous learning by adapting and evolving as they progress in their career. CEOs must have the right qualities to address the challenges their companies face, seize potential opportunities, and develop a long-term strategy.
These are the qualities that every effective CEO needs:
Every CEO should have a vision for their company. It’s what becomes part of their mission and forms the backbone of their forward-thinking strategy. This vision should be used to motivate and inspire the company’s employees. Its management and wider leadership team should share this vision.
- Connecting with Company Culture
The CEO is at the heart of setting the company’s culture. They should take a people-focused approach, connecting themselves with the organisation and cultivating trust with other employees.
- Relationship-Building Skills
CEOs should have relationship-building skills, nurturing relationships developed on trust to encourage employee retention and a positive company culture. An effective CEO with these skills can encourage and take on board feedback from employees and continue to evolve as a leader.
- Navigate Challenges
No two days are ever the same as CEO. Effective leaders anticipate challenges and navigate them, having the foresight to take account of what might be around the corner. Successful CEOs need the emotional stamina to face these challenges and take risks accordingly while weighing up the consequences.
Curiosity is one of the best qualities a CEO can have. Effective CEOs ask questions about everything, assessing every possible outcome and probing situations to understand them better. These CEOs recognise that they don’t have all the answers and work to build a team of talented executives who are experts in their field.
CEOs have to be decisiveness by nature. They should be strong communicators with a clear vision to build a positive company culture to drive growth. An effective CEO won’t make decisions in isolation. They’ll instead engage with other employees, promoting open dialogue and asking questions to take on board over points of view for better decision-making.
Work with Specialist CEO Recruiters
Are you searching for a CEO position in the UK or abroad? Reach out to our specialist executive recruitment team today to become part of our CEO talent pool. At Exec Capital, we recruit on a part-time, full-time, and interim basis for companies throughout the UK and abroad with remote and hybrid working opportunities.
Exec Capital works with companies at every stage of their development to recruit for executive and C-suite roles. Our team is made up of executives and entrepreneurs with unique insights into both sides of the recruitment process.
Start your CEO recruitment by contacting our team at 020 3287 2365 for a no-obligation consultation or get in touch to join our talent pool. We’ll help you decide between our executive search and headhunting services to find the right fit for you.