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21 Entrepreneurs Explain The Essential Skills One Needs To Be a CEO

There are skills one has to adapt to be an effective and efficient CEO and anyone can be a CEO. “It’s within everyone’s grasp to be a CEO” Martha Stewart. The most common skills are decision making being the leader of the team and communication. Some CEOs are born with skills while others have to acquire them through consistent practice. As a CEO, you have to remind yourself its not always about you and practice servant-leadership in most cases. We asked entrepreneurs what critical skills one must have to be a CEO and here are the awesome responses.

#1- A good CEO needs to be brave and creative

Photo Credit: Liliana Petrova

Without confidence in the ability to lead, in employees' ability to succeed and in the organization's ability to thrive, a CEO cannot lead effectively. This includes willingness to pivot and shift priorities when an opportunity arises. Today's CEO needs to have the intellectual curiosity to learn new things, like the power of designed company culture and customer experience. They must understand emerging technologies and existing tools like artificial Intelligence, blockchain and overall data management that can cut costs and increase revenue in the right context. Servant leadership is a real CEO skill to lead the workforce of the future. Hierarchical power is a thing in the past. A good leader today hires people and manages them on results, providing freedom for creativity (and maybe mistakes). Last, but not least the CEO of today needs to have a purpose and the ability to turn that purpose into actions and results at every level of the organization.

Thanks to Liliana Petrova, DoingCXRight!

#2- Takes charge and ownership of issues

Photo Credit: LaKesha Womack

As the CEO of a company, you are responsible for every person and every action taken by your company. To be successful, it is imperative that you have the ability to take ownership of issues while empowering your team members to take action. This can be tricky because many leaders take ownership of the issues and while micromanaging their team members. This does not allow your team to grow from their mishaps or failures. They easily see the CEO as the person in charge and feel little to no accountability for the company's performance. Others fail to take ownership of the issues and simply empower their team to handle the details of projects. This relatively hands-off approach often results in the CEO not having full awareness of the issues happening with the company. As the CEO, you can see all of the pieces of the puzzle and need to ensure that the team members are working cohesively rather than allowing the pieces to operate independently. In the optimal scenario, the CEO empowers the team members to create solutions but has developed an open line of communication  with those members so that the CEO can have input in how those solutions are carried out. Empowering team members to focus on solutions prevents them
from simply being problem seekers that they can lay at the feet of the CEO as well as prevents them from taking rogue actions that may not align with the corporate vision or initiatives within other departments.

Thanks to LaKesha Womack, Womack Consulting Group!

#3- Providing encouragement

Photo Credit: Debby Rizzo

An often overlooked but important skill for an effective CEO is providing encouragement. Today's marketplace is getting busier, faster, more competitive, and more challenging – regardless of your industry. If you hire good people, they will work hard each and every day for the company. Employees need encouragement that what they do matters. When assigned a new project, especially when challenging, they need to know management gave it to them because they believed they will be successful. If it was assigned to invest in their personal development, then say so, as that demonstrates you care about them and their career path. Depending on how big the project is and how big your company is, it may not be possible to be the one to provide encouragement directly, but you can encourage your managers about their choices, which can have a trickledown effect to the team. You can recognize the achievement when it is successful, naming the project members. Having the CEO recognize a success – knowing they noticed and are appreciated – can make an employee feel validated for their efforts and motivated for the next challenge. Plus, if you have a team with high expectations for themselves, they too will make mistakes and have disappointments. They need your encouragement as they may be too hard on themselves. Aren't there days you wish someone would say to you, You can do this, I believe in you! Try it – it can be contagious within your organization.

Thanks to Debby Rizzo, Revenue Storm Corporation!

See also  28 Entrepreneurs Explain The Essential Skills One Needs To Be a CEO

#4-Letting go of your ego

Photo Credit: Erik J. Olson

One person can only scale so far. To grow your business you have to let go of the reins a bit, meaning letting go of your ego. Get comfortable not being the best and the smartest in your company. Let your staff learn, grow, and become better than you. Imagine having a whole crew of people in your corner that are better than you. That is how you will scale and grow your company.

Thanks to Erik J. Olson, Array Digital!

#5-Ability to convince people is essential

Photo Credit: Andrei Vasilescu

A CEO has to successfully lead a group of people of different merits and attitudes in order to run the business. But you can not do that unless you influence and convince them to take your words seriously and do exactly as you want. Convincing a group of people of different mental structures is really a tough task what you have to do as the CEO. You need to find individual ways to influence and convince your individual subordinates before you engage in conveying your message. Hence, the ability to make different people fall in your words is a must skill to be a CEO.*

Thanks to Andrei Vasilescu, DontPayFull!

#6-Time management

Photo Credit: Reuben Yonatan

Whether you employ context changes, or simply adhere to a rigid schedule, you need to know how to manage your time if you are going to be successful as a CEO. It is on you not only to put in long hours each day, but to prevent burnout over long years in charge. The only way to do this is to ensure that, despite the long hours and intense commitment to your business, you also devote time to your personal well-being, as well as your family and friends. Time management is a soft skill that doesn't get  enough recognition: it is critical to CEO success.

Thanks to Reuben Yonatan, GetVOIP!

#7- Public speaking and networking

Photo Credit: Paige Arnof-Fenn

Most of my business comes from public speaking and networking so those are 2 key skills that have helped me succeed. I also recommend thick skin, a strong work ethic and a good sense of humor because it is a tough job where the hours are long, a lot of people tell you no (investors, board, customers) and it can be lonely at times. You have to be a magnet for great talent to be able to build a strong team too. It is the toughest job you will ever love.

Thanks to Paige Arnof-Fenn, Mavens & Moguls!

#8- Decisive

Photo Credit: Nick Disney

First, a CEO has to be a great leader and not a manager who just tells people what to do. A leader puts people in a position so that they can be successful and then inspires those people to be their best. Also, a CEO must be very decisive especially when it comes to making the tough decisions. When your employees are looking to you to be their leader, it is very difficult for them to passionately follow someone who cannot decide the best direction to go.

Thanks to Nick Disney, Sell My San Antonio House!

#9- Three things

Photo Credit: Andrew Rawson

In order to be an effective CEO, one must possess the ability to be a risk taker. These risks must be not be taken lightly, they must be calculated and not put the company's profitability at risk. Along those lines, an effective CEO must be able to take action when needed. This does not mean being impulsive but rather taking a careful and thoughtful approach. Finally, a CEO must be willing to include others in his/her decision-making process. This requires all employees to work as a team. An effective CEO will show his/her employees that their input is valuable.

See also  10 Rules of Successful Entrepreneurship [Infographic]

Thanks to Andrew Rawson, Traliant!

#10- Communication

Processed with VSCO with au5 preset

Being a CEO comes with a lot of responsibility. There are several skills a CEO must have to be successful. For starters, very strong communication skills as you will need to delegate a lot of tasks. Then you will need to be very enthusiastic and charismatic which will play a big part in how you build partnerships and continue expanding your business. And lastly, you must know how to delegate the day to day tasks. This is something a lot of CEOs get wrong, they try to approach problems with a startup mindset which is great when you are starting out but at a certain point in your business if you don't delegate you are doomed to fail.

Thanks to  Michelle Aran,  Velvet Caviar!

#11- Three skills

Photo Credit: Stuart

You hire people that know more than you do about a subject. You have to learn enough from them to be able to understand the work they do and give them direction as they make decisions about that work. For example, you don't have to understand web development, but you do need to understand enough to help them prioritize the work they are doing. For that reason I put learning quickly as the number one skill.  The next most important skill I see for a CEO is making decisions. Each day as your team goes to work on strategies, they will come to you for a final decision and approval about the strategies they would like to implement. Being decisive and being right more often than you are wrong is critical. A good CEO gathers information and then makes decisions as quickly and efficiently as possible. Lastly, CEOs have to be able to communicate. They have to share their vision with the employees, the customers, the vendors, the investors and the media. Being a CEO is a lot of communicating.

Thanks to Stuart Draper, Stukent!

#12- Business literacy

Photo Credit: Lozelle Mathai

I believe one critical skill that all CEOs must possess to be effective is to be business literate, as it relates to the financial side of the business. All CEO's must know how to read and understand their company’s financial statements. They must know the numbers of their business. It is not enough to give this responsibility to someone else, as a CEO you need to be able to question assumptions and projections. It doesn't matter if the business is big or small. A CEO should have an intimate relationship with business finances. This intimate relationship will foster an intuition of knowing when something is not correct within the financials.

Thanks to Lozelle Mathai, Closing Your Books, LLC!

#13- Be caring

Photo Credit: Derek Perkins

CEO's should foster the following skills: truly caring about their team members and listening intently. To truly care, you need to know about their life and talk to them regularly about their life. Listening intently will show your people that their thoughts and opinions matter even if changes were not made in favor of their suggestions. People will put in their best effort for a boss who truly cares and listens intently.

Thanks to Derek Perkins, Nozzle!

#14- Team mentality

Photo Credit: Deborah Sweeney

As a CEO, you should have a team mentality. Focus on the needs of your team members before your own. Think and strategize on how you can help your team to learn, grow, contribute to their day-to-day success, and stay inspired every day.

Thanks to Deborah Sweeney, MyCorporation!

#15- Visionary

Photo Credit: Ayesha Chidolue

As a CEO, a critical skill needed to be an effective leader is having a clear vision and being able to articulate it to your employees in a way that inspires. You should be a transformational leader as opposed to just a transactional leader. That way you, you inspire your followers by being a role model, which in turn builds trust and respect for the CEO as a leader and inspires everyone else to follow that vision.

Thanks to Ayesha Chidolue, The Chidolue Law Firm, PLLC!

#16- A number of skills

Photo Credit: Serena Holmes

Being a CEO isn’t for everyone but the rewards are worth it! I believe anyone can be successful in this role if they have, or are willing to learn, some critical skills. As a CEO, you will need to be comfortable taking calculated risks, have confidence in your vision and be willing to go above and beyond to establish yourself. You will make mistakes along the way and that’s ok, as long as you learn from them. Your communication with clients/customers and colleagues should be polite, polished and professional. You build credibility through consistency and through relationships, you can build trust. Remember, you learn more by listening than you do by talking, so take the opportunity to learn from those who have been where you’ve been and have more experience from you.

See also  30 Entrepreneurs Explain the Essential Skills One Needs to be a CEO

Thanks to Serena Holmes, Tigris Events!

#17- Gives instructions not orders

A good CEO enables tasks to be performed. This also means that tasks must be accomplished through other people, the employees. While giving orders, CEOs limit the group to their own level of expertise. But, and this is an important distinction, when you give directions, allow the employees to contribute as much as they can.  Their solutions may be even better than your ideas. When this happens, know
that you have employees who feel involved and motivated and because of that they become more productive. That is why next time you feel ordering, give instructions instead. Tell the worker exactly what you want them to do and leave to them the how.

Thnaks to Dewayne Hamilton, Web Cosmo Forums!

#18- Inspires and motivates

Photo Credit: Roman Grigoriev

Good CEO is someone who inspires and motivates colleagues to unleash their full potential. Someone who helps others achieve amazing things and allows them to gain all the credit for it. CEO is a full-time member of a startup team who is instrumental in building it into a business: (1) by multiplying results of co-founders/team members; (2) to whom co-founders/team members go for advice; (3) who pushes everyone outside of their comfort zone and can & will challenge the team members.

Thanks to Roman Grigoriev,  Splento!

#19- Goes for quality

Photo Credit: Garret Flower

Always go for quality, in everything you do. When I was starting one of my earliest business, I was desperate to keep costs low. I ended up finding office chairs being given away for free. The chairs weren’t in great condition but hey a saving is a saving right? After a few months, I was sitting in the office one day working away and suddenly the office chair split in half. I landed on a metal rod which ended up lodging in my back. I was literally an inch away from being paralysed and required 12 stitches. You might think you are saving time & money in the short run by shopping around for bargains. However, in the long term quality always pays.

Thanks to Garret Flower, Parkpnp!

#20-Know what you know, admit what you don't

Photo Credit: Nicholas Smith

You can't be an expert on everything, so stop trying to be. As the CEO of a company, you're there to make decisions in all areas of business, including finances, marketing, legal and compliance and more, not to mention the ethical and moral decisions we face daily. Can you really master all those skills and run the business? Its ok to come across something you're unfamiliar with, and trust me I know. I'm the CEO of a tech company with no tech background so I regularly experience this, but what I do have is access to people who are experts. I ask enough questions to understand what I need to and sufficient to make a decision.

Thanks to Nicholas Smith,!

#21- Trusts each person in the team

The #1 skill every CEO needs is the ability to trust their team, no matter the size of the company. Every person is there to contribute so it's critical for leaders to trust their ability to do so. That means handing over ownership of projects to the appropriate team member and trusting them to get the job done without micromanaging. In other words, delegate. If you can't trust each person within your
organization to take responsibility, that speaks to a deeper problem that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.

Thanks to Martin Olsson, Brandox!

What essential skills do you need to be a CEO? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below. Don’t forget to join our #IamCEO Community.

Mercy - CBNation Team

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(, podcasts, ( and videos ( CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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