20 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- Consistency

Photo Credit: Austin Denison

As an entrepreneur and consultant/coach, I’d say the single most important factor that can make or break a CEO’s leadership abilities is consistency. Both a consistency of vision, and consistency of reinforcement, are equally important to creating a trusting atmosphere and team that can rely on each other for support. Consistency develops trust. This occurs because people know what to expect and can rely on their own expectations when making decisions that affect the future vision of the organization. As a CEO, consistently communicating your strategic vision develops autonomy. And consistently enforcing positive behaviors is a great way to instill those actions into the culture of your organization.

Thanks to Austin Denison, Denison Success Systems!

#2- Ability to identify and promote a culture

Photo Credit: Mike Qiu

I believe one of the most important skills needed to be a CEO is the ability to identify and promote culture within the company. This skill involves the knowledge and experience to not only hire the right people with the right skill set for the jobs, but also having the process to hire the people that fits the culture of the company. This one thing ensures synergy within the workspace, and ultimately the success of the company.

Thanks to Mike Qiu, Good As Sold Home Buyers!

#3- Resilience and grit

Photo Credit: Deborah Sweeney

In difficult and prosperous times alike, leaders face many challenges and have to make decisions that have a tremendous impact. You may get knocked off the horse often, but that grit will allow you to keep getting back on and show your true character as someone who continues to persist even when the chips are down.

Thanks to Deborah Sweeney,!

#4- A number of skills

Photo Credit: David Vranicar

To be a business owner or CEO you need to be willing to be the first person in the office and the last person to leave. Running a company will be the heart and soul of your life and sacrifices will be made. You’ll have to learn to manage your time extremely efficiently and balance your other responsibilities in order to maintain longevity. You’ve got to be able to communicate effectively with your employees and give constructive criticism without breaking them down in order to maximize their productivity. Clear and concise instructions, as well as feedback after every assignment or project, will keep everyone on the same page.

Thanks to David Vranicar,  FBS Fortified and Ballistic Security!

#5- Coaching skills

Photo Credit: Alina Okun

Coaches shape a better future. They motivate, engage, and inspire others. CEOs with effective coaching skills help others achieve personal and professional goals. Unfortunately, coaching can be a hard skill to master for some people. It is not something they have been trained to do throughout their career. Most CEOs are still accustomed to tackling problems by telling their people what to do instead of asking and listening. They are uncomfortable with coaching because it deprives them of what they are familiar with the most: asserting authority. While CEOs are attempting to coach, many times, all they are doing is trying to get an agreement from everyone else on what they have already decided. Regardless of the challenges, in order for organizations to continue to succeed in the future, coaching has to become an essential skill for the CEOs.

Thanks to Alina Okun, Holdrum Consulting!

#6- Optimists and network builders

Photo Credit: Sergio Pedemonte

CEOs must be effective network builders. Creating business relationships is crucial for building loyalty, both within your staff and with customers. Building your network boosts retention while gradually expanding your consumer base. CEOs must be a realistic optimist. You need to have a glass-half-full mentality while also be realistic with what’s achievable short-term. Aim big but set reasonable goals.

Thanks to Sergio Pedemonte, Your House Fitness!

#7- Ability to learn new things

Photo Credit: Megan Smith

As a CEO, you will, at times, need to be involved in every aspect of your business, including the financial and accounting aspects, marketing aspects, human resource aspects, legal aspects, and much more. Many of these areas may be foreign to you and unrelated to your past experiences and/or education. While you can seek guidance and assistance from skilled professionals in these areas, you will generally be unable to completely delegate these issues and keep them out of sight and mind. Rather, you will need to develop at least a base understanding of these subjects in order to be able to ensure that they are being properly handled and in a way that makes sense to the bigger picture of your business. Being a CEO therefore requires that you have an ability to learn new things and not shy away from the challenge of tackling new areas that are foreign to you, even if that makes you uncomfortable.

Thanks to Megan Smith, Dosha Mat!

#8- Hardworking and innovative

Photo Credit: Lewis Keegan

If you want to be a CEO, you must be hardworking. You must be willing to work harder than your staff and employees. Just because you're a CEO doesn't mean you can lie around in your beach house all day and leave all the work to your employees. Also, you must be innovative. Don't settle for what you have or where you are now; always aim for improvement. Always seek for ways on how you can do things better.

Thanks to Lewis Keegan,!

#9- Adaptability

A key skill for successful business owners is to be adaptable. Adapting and pivoting in response to market trends, competitors, consumer preferences, and a host of other internal and external factors is crucial. CEO's unable or unwilling to adapt are doomed to fail. Any business owner will tell you things didn't fully pan out the way that they expected. Those that are successful are that way because they identified the need to adapt and had the willingness to adjust course.

Thanks to Connor Griffiths, Lifty Life!

#10-Being open-minded

Photo Credit: Karl Armstrong

Particularly these days, where the workforce is unique (multi-generational), it is ideal for leaders and CEOs to be welcoming and have a receptive outlook when managing with a diverse set of employees. Employees from different generations have distinctive learning styles and work ethics. You should be adaptable and take into consideration recognizing the appropriate approach on how to mentor, coach, and motivate them. Moreover, see their possible differences as a unique advantage of your team to achieve success. If you welcome and leverage this, you will be able to use this variety of different perspectives to increase your team’s creativity and better problem-solving approaches.

Thanks to Karl Armstrong, EpicWin App!

#11- Three skills

Photo Credit: John Howard

Being a CEO is more than just the title. It’s not anything near the ones you can see on TV who are just ordering people to do things for them. Being a CEO myself, I spend too much time working and I admit, it’s really hard work to keep the company afloat. It needs complete dedication to the company and its people. A CEO must have all the qualities of a great leader, now let me share 3 essential skills that I believe a CEO must possess: 1. CEOs must have great communication skills. This is the most important part of any relationship. Lacking communication may strain the relationship between the employees and the management. 2. CEOs must be approachable. People shouldn’t be intimidated to reach out to their CEOs. The CEO must be approachable to coach and guide their employees on the right path. 3. CEOs must be transparent. Employees support CEOs that are transparent to them. The employees have the right to know certain things and this is what would lead them to support the company all the way.

Thanks to John Howard, Coupon Lawn!

#12- Strong communication skills

Photo Credit: Shari Smith

This is a very important skill because aside from the business, you have a team to manage. You have to be able to properly relay tasks to be done to your team and to give them clear instructions on what to do on a certain project. And for your team to be successful, you also need to show them how to communicate properly by being transparent to each other, and by giving them the chance to give their opinions and feedback.

Thanks to Shari Smith, Shari – Sells!

#13- Understanding the people around us

Photo Credit: Jacob J. Sapochnick

As CEOs, we need to be able to understand the people around us. We have got to have the ability to read people even from a mile away. This makes us good leaders because we can analyze different kinds of people and work out where they are best suited. As for me, I size up the people that work for me, and depending on their skillset and capability assign them in tasks where they will excel. I know what drives them. And by knowing what they’re made of I can motivate them to become better versions of themselves.

Thanks to Jacob J. Sapochnick

#14- Risk-taking

Photo Credit: Michael Miller

Great leaders are born out of necessity. In every struggle, there will always be someone who will rise above the ashes. This is what great leaders do. As a CEO, you need to have this skill. You need to take calculated risk to bring your company to the next level. Taking calculated risks shows confidence and helps you grow as a business leader. Embracing risk also enables you to overcome the fear of failing. With enough experience, you'll be able to weigh the pros and cons of every decision and come out on top.

Thanks to Michael Miller, VPN Online!

#15- Patience

Photo Credit: Erik Rivera

Great things take time to grow, so patience is essential for CEOs to have. Plenty of people have million-dollar ideas, but it’s easy to get caught up in wanting those ideas to pay off quickly, especially living in the dot com world we live in now. Unfortunately, time is the one variable we can’t accelerate, regardless of how hard we work, so patience is absolutely imperative when it comes to running a business, especially if it’s a startup. Rather than just giving up things that don’t pay off immediately, give them the time they need to actually pay off; the dividends can be worth so much more than a few get-rich-quick products or services that may not produce results for very long.

Thanks to Erik Rivera, ThriveTalk!

#16- Emotional intelligence above all else

Photo Credit: Shawn Johal

Successful CEOs understand how to recruit, hire, develop and reward the best talent. They are able to give credit and show incredible humility. They also know when it is time to be firm and provide constructive criticism to a team member. They will never use personal attacks or belittle their employees. The best CEOs understand what Jim Collins has been telling us for years: First WHO! By taking their emotional intelligence to a higher level, they are able to motivate the team to dream big and accomplish stretch goals. Leadership styles can vary when they bring in A players and trust them to see through the company's vision. By empowering others, they become even more successful in their role.

Thanks to Shawn Johal, Elevation!

#17- A good judge of character

Photo Credit: Reuben Yonatan

A CEO makes hiring, promotion, and placement decisions. All these decisions require that you be able to analyze someone's character and determine: if they are fit for your company, if they can handle promotion and which department is suitable. Unless you are incredibly good at assessing character, you will make wrong decisions that will drag the company down.

Thanks to Reuben Yonatan, GetVoIP!

#18- Empathy

Photo Credit: Connie Heintz

Empathy, as it is commonly said, is about putting yourself in others’ shoes and understanding how others would feel in their own shoes and not how you would feel in your shoes. Empathy is not about being soft or emotional either. Rather it is about committing to understand other people’s feelings and position, anticipating the effects your decision will have on others and taking the time to make genuine connections even with those in lower rungs. This way, you’d be able to inspire and nurture your followers, meet the needs of your target audience, and elicit loyalty.

Thanks to Connie Heintz, DIYoffer!

#19- Knowledgeable and enthusiastic

Photo Credit: Mat Moakes

Without these two essential skills, you won’t be able take people with you on your journey. You need to be knowledgeable enough about every area of the business to know when things are (and aren’t) going well and enthusiastic enough to instil a sense of direction and belief. This can be contagious, even in teams who are bit down in the dumps or in tough times. A CEO never has enough hours in the day, so being able to articulate both of these qualities will empower others to achieve and leave you to focus on the juggling act of moving the business forward. That’s where making the right hires comes in. Make sure you and your team get the right people in place, develop strategy and direction with them and then, critically, hold each other to account.

Thanks to Mat Moakes, heycar UK!

#20- Two skills

Photo Credit: Nikola Roza

#1- Be first,  As a leader of your business, you need to be first when stepping into unknown, or doing something that's the right thing to do, but hard. Lead with example, and give others the benefit of following you. #2- Delegation- To scale your business, you need to learn to delegate. Delegation means assigning work you're not good at to people who are. And getting out of their way and not trying to micromanage. It's a hard skill to master as we CEO's feel like we have to get involved with everything to get things moving. Not true and proper delegation is the key to infinite growth.

Thanks to Nikola Roza, Nikola Roza- SEO for the Poor and Determined!

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

Mercy - CBNation

This is a post from a CBNation writer. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand 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 Blue 16 Media.

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