10 CEO Traits That’ll Take You to the Top

Keeping up with constant shifts in the market and changes in business sentiment creates challenges for the CEOs of today and tomorrow as they work to navigate the volatile climate facing their organisations. In these uncertain situations, those who are not properly equipped with the essential qualities required of a leader will have difficulty in understanding issues and making successful strategic decisions. The result: their business will suffer. Here Dr Kellie Vincent, MBA Director at Westminster Business School, provides CEO Today with 10 traits to hone.

So what do future CEOs and leaders need to be able to face the different scenarios that will inevitably be thrown at them by the business world?

Ten essential attributes are crucial to being a successful business leader: stewardship, leadership, strategist, change agent, innovator, investor, digital advocate, entrepreneur, collaborator and mentor. All ten work together to form a set of valuable tools to help make strategic decisions. If we consider the meaning of each attribute, directors need to become:

  1. A Leader: Leaders must adopt an ethically led mind-set and demonstrate effective and innovative direction in order to motivate and establish high performing teams and organisations.
  2. A Strategist: Being able to analyse complex business problems from different perspectives using appropriate knowledge and ideas. This is essential especially when dealing with uncertain environments where no strategic blueprints exist.
  3. A Steward: The governance issues and legal obligations that boards face cannot be underestimated; considering directors as stewards is becoming critical. Taking responsibility for the financial, human, and natural capital, and ensuring none are overlooked is a major aspect of stewardship.
  4. A Mentor who demonstrates the capacity to assist others to perform to their best means that not only do their successors and next generation directors develop, but also the mentors themselves learn and benefit from the experience.
  5. A Collaborator demonstrating the communication, networking, team working ability, and confidence needed to interact effectively with individuals and groups in business, managerial and board level context.
  6. An Investor demonstrating the ability to make good investment and business decisions and to achieve a range of objectives utilising organisational resources to the best effect. Although a longstanding requirement, the nature of the term investment has shifted. Given the importance of ethical investments and concepts such as social entrepreneurship, a growing discussion area for boards, we no longer view investment decisions as being short term and purely financially based. The bigger picture of investment should be considered.
  7. A Change Agent who, through understanding managerial processes, demonstrates practical ways to achieve change. The business world today is constantly evolving and the only certainty is to expect change. Being an effective change agent is central to the territory of directors.
  8. A Technology Advocate demonstrating awareness of current issues and debates around the use of technology within organisations and being able to devise ways to develop organisational resilience and capitalise on rapidly changing technological capabilities.
  9. An Innovator demonstrating adaptability, originality, insight, and critical and reflective abilities, which can all be used in problematic situations.
  10. An Entrepreneur or intrapreneur in spirit, demonstrating willingness to take calculated risks to find innovative solutions and generate valuable propositions. We know that many aspiring business owners define the term entrepreneur; however we need to consider the concept in a broader sense and think about the point that to be truly entrepreneurial takes courage.

Having the ability to draw upon these attributes can help aspiring industry leaders find the courage to step up to a CEO role. Mastering all ten attributes can set a CEO apart as a successful and outstanding leader.

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