Universal Skills of a CEO

For the purposes of this article we will refer to your most senior leader, your Managing Director or the individual who has overall accountability for the running of your business, as the ‘CEO’. Whether this is a term you adopt internally is entirely a personal decision, though it is worthy noting that some people specifically covet the title, CEO.

Every organisation needs a CEO who can bring direction, a CEO that can inspire and motivate people and a CEO who delivers results. These universal skills can then be broken down into three key areas of competence: Strategy and Planning, Communication and Influence, and Operational Delivery.

The weighting and importance of these skills in your ideal CEO will depend entirely on the size of the organisation, the industry and importantly what you are looking to achieve.

What Should You Be Looking For?

If you are looking for a CEO to grow your business, the skill set required is different to that of a CEO who has been hired to continue the business as it is today.

The weighting and importance of these skills in the ideal CEO for your organisation will depend entirely on the size of the organisation, the industry and importantly what you are looking

Strategy and Planning

The CEO is expected to set the strategy, requiring the CEO to make the final call on an overall vision, a set of strategic moves, and the allocation of capital.

When building a great plan, it is important to develop foresight, meaning having critical thinking when it comes to future possibilities. Great strategists are open minded and seek people to challenge their assumptions. They are naturally forward thinking and have the ability to think, not just of the immediate consequence of a decision, but also the second and third levels of impact.

In a smaller business, the requirement for strategy and planning may need the CEO to be more nimble or agile and to change direction quickly depending on market conditions.

Strategy and planning in large organisations tends to be longer term. More complex, it requires a large amount of influencing internal stakeholders, collaboration with external stakeholders and a good understanding of business ‘politics’.

Communication and Influence

Communication and influence are a really important area of selection that decision makers often get wrong. It is not just how people talk and articulate themselves, it is how they generate reactions to their communications; this is influence.

To be truly successful, CEOs will set out a clear vision and set out goals that will give those around them a sense of purpose.

Great communicators communicate in a way that generates confidence and inspiration that motivates people to trust and follow them.

In a small business a CEO will have more direct communication with stakeholders (owners and staff) and needs to be highly visible and accessible, and build one on one trust with these people. This often involves working hands-on with key staff over a longer period of time and communicating as much in their actions as their words.

In a large organisation with multiple sites across the country, or even the world, the CEO must be able to communicate and influence people with fewer one on one interactions or even via video and remote messaging. The CEO will have fewer interactions and therefore each one needs to be of high quality for high impact.

It is also worth noting that in larger, listed entities, CEOs must build trust and confidence with key stakeholders, not just internally but externally – customers and investors.

Operational Delivery

Operational delivery is the most important area for many. No matter how good their strategy or how influential they are, unless a CEO can deliver consistent results, they will never be successful. The CEO who can deliver results tends to have an action orientated mindset.

They will have a track record of getting things done that in turn drive performance and deliver results.

Strong operators deliver performance by their ability to align overall objectives to a detailed level of specific goals and metrics.

To discuss the type of leader who could benefit your organisation, contact us today on +61 3 9602 1666 or career@brookerconsulting.com.au.