26 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- Three skills

Photo Credit: Jill Canes

The most essential skills you need to be a CEO is communication skills, collaboration skills, decisiveness and open-mindedness. Many CEOs spend more time managing teams, partners, major clients and other key stakeholders compared to being in the weeds managing the day-to-day operations. It's far more important to learn how to attract and retain employees, communicate with employees and key partners and stakeholders, make strategic decisions, be open to new ideas and suggestion and respond to new long-term trends. A good CEO is a forward-thinking leader who manages stakeholders well and pushes the company to excellence.

Thanks to Jill Canes, NP, Face Forward Medical Aesthetics!

#2- Risk-taker

Photo Credit: Eden Cheng

It is important for a CEO to be able to take the necessary risks that a business needs to succeed and remain competitive. In this regard, any individual that is risk-averse cannot fit in as a suitable CEO candidate, as the inability or unwillingness to take calculated risks will force a company to stagnate and lag behind its competitors. However, they must have the right judgment to know which risks can jeopardize the profitability of a company and which ones will benefit it in the long run.

Thanks to Eden Cheng, WeInvoice!

#3- A sense of vision

Photo Credit: Ben Teicher

CEO’s should not be leading just to lead; they should have the ability to think of their missions as those which can effect change for their company and their industry. This entails the ability to stand firm in their visions and to defend them to anyone who questions them. Furthermore, reading and learning about desired goals, whether related to being a better CEO, innovating an industry or gaining more business profit is a good way to lean into a desired future.

Thanks to Ben Teicher, Healthy Directions!

#4- Art of professionalism

Photo Credit: Matt Seaburn

A CEO needs to be skilled in the art of professionalism. No matter how knowledgeable or powerful a CEO may be, these traits must go hand in hand with an eloquent and graceful demeanor when dealing with employees and business associates. If a CEO loses his or her temper in a tough situation, they may end up losing some respect from others. A CEO needs to realize that people are counting on them to know the answers, or at least to deal with things calmly, rationally and with dignity even if they do not have all of the answers right away. Professionalism is a strong indicator of accountability and reliability.

Thanks to Matt Seaburn, Rent-a-Wheel!

#5- Listening to your gut

Photo credit: Darren Litt

Many CEOs rely too much on either data or gut instinct. The key is to strike a balance daily. Some decisions must be made with cold hard facts, but it's imperative to recognize what decisions are best made with your gut. The more you learn to trust and tune into your instinct, the more clear guidance you will gather from your intuition. Over time, you begin to see where listening to your gut saves you from mistakes.

Thanks to Darren Litt, Hiya Health!

#6- A strong intuition

Photo Credit: Mary Berry

Being able to read people's personalities and motives is a powerful tool for dealing with employees and having a good handle on the overall vibe of your workplace. For example, if you observe the habits, language, conversation topics and moods of an employee who is not performing well, you can eventually get a better understanding of why they may be struggling at work. With this information, you can come up with productive actions to deal with these situations, whether it's confronting an entitled employee with firm and clear expectations or telling a stellar employee who seems overwhelmed that they're doing great. Use your intuition to find ways to help your employees heal, grow, and be excellent.

Thanks to Mary Berry, Cosmos Vita!

#7- Drive and ability to be innovative

Photo Credit: Justin Nabity

You aren’t going to achieve anything if you don’t have a direction. Set goals for yourself and your business, and try to attain those goals with everything you got. The ability to be innovative: The primary key to success for any organization is to be able to innovate. A CEO should ideally be able to anticipate future trends and develop a set of strategies that result in profitability in the long run.

Thanks to Justin Nabity, Physicians Thrive!

#8- Two skills

Photo Credit: Debbie Liu

An important skill of a CEO or business owner to have is to have clarity in their business scope of goals. Taking into consideration how their product or service will benefit consumers is key to understanding your target audience. Another essential skill of a business owner requires one to be able to lead without managing. Meaning, being able to delegate appropriately, trust when a team member has ownership over a project/task, someone willing to collaborate. Being approachable and open-minded is so pivotal when you are a CEO or business owner. CEOs or business owners should want their team to feel comfortable without tiptoeing around, able to freely ask questions without judgment or repercussions.

Thanks to Debbie Liu, Peachy Home Buyers LLC!

#9- Sales skills

Photo Credit: Amie Thompson

The best advice I was given when I took over my company was that I need to be prepared to sell. I didn't fully get it at the time and I am not a traditional salesperson. As the CEO however, I have to sell my services to clients, convince future employees that this is the right place for them to grow, and sell myself to the media, partners, or future investors. There are a lot of skills needed to be a successful CEO, but many of them we already had in order to be a successful leader on our way to becoming CEO. Selling is something that was a bit foreign to me and probably many CEOs. I thought hiring the right salesperson was the answer (HINT: it wasn't). When you run a small business there is no substitute, and no better person to tell the story of the business outside of the CEO. Knowing how to sell is critical for CEO success.

Thanks to Amie Thompson, Creative Allies!

#10- Stress management and making friends

Photo Credit: Huy Pham

Stress Management I can tell in my 2 years as a CEO that it’s more stressful than your average day job. After all, you are carrying the shoulders of your business. What your employees usually worry about, you do too (times ten). I recommend that you learn to properly manage your stress levels and identify when you need to take a break or when to soldier on. If you break down and do something stupid, your whole company does as well. Making friends Another important skill that you need to make friends quickly. This is different from networking because I’m meaning that you should make friends that you can count on through thick and thin. Having friends who will help you when you’re business is at its lowest will help you raise it back or at least give you enough encouragement to press on and do your best.

Thanks to Huy Pham, Healthcanal!

#11- Good negotiation skills

Photo Credit: Jason McMahon

Well, I believe that In order to be a successful CEO, a person must have good negotiation skills. In business, you must always ensure that you and your company are getting the finest deal possible. This requires the ability to negotiate. This could include talking to external vendors, partners, business associates, or even members of your own team. Negotiation involves the ability to reach an agreement that benefits both parties. Negotiation training can be obtained from a professional training company, and any CEO can benefit from it.

Thanks to Jason McMahon, Bambrick!

#12- Optimism

Photo Credit: Sasha Quail

Optimism is the ability to see things in a positive light. As a result, it is critical for a CEO to really be optimistic and confident in their leadership and to be ready to increase employee morale at all times. Every firm needs a CEO who is aware of what is going on in their organization and can effectively manage it. A CEO must be prepared to face challenges and remain energized to achieve his or her objectives. It will help not only the company but also the employees, who will be inspired and inspired by their leader's hard work and dedication. When something goes wrong, some CEOs lose their cool; perhaps a CEO must remain cautiously optimistic and regulate everything.

Thanks to Sasha Quail, Claims UK!

#13- Technical Skills

Photo Credit: Chris Nutbeen

In a society that works mostly online, you need to have the professional skills required to operate within an online world. You should make endeavors to fully experience the processes of your business, whether this is using smart devices, being computer savvy, assuming the function of business tools, or knowing how to use programming. Technology and the digital market are critical areas that you cannot afford to fall behind in.

Thanks to Chris Nutbeen, Nuttifox!

#14- Decency

Photo Credit: Daniel Foley

A vital part of a CEO’s job is relationship-building; with investors, shareholders, employees, and the public. It’ll be much simpler for others to esteem you enough to understand your vision and assist you to realize it if you show true decency and care towards them. And that, of course, doesn’t only mean being a genuine person. It’s about showing kindness and understanding, and also being alert to how different factors influence your employees or the public.

Thanks to Daniel Foley, Scooter Guide!

#15- Emotional stability

Photo Credit: Charles McMillan

A CEO must be able to keep his or her emotions under control. This does not, however, imply that a CEO must be rigid in his or her actions, failing to congratulate accomplishments or point out failures. Rather, the intensity of feeling must be maintained in such a way that coworkers and subordinates comprehend the emotion's underlying significance. A CEO should ideally not grow enraged over little mistakes or thrilled over minor victories. Rather, he or she must know how to value employees and guide them on the appropriate path so that the team may reach the organization's corporate goal.

Thanks to Charles McMillan, Stand With Main Street!

#16- Learning to be a kid again

Photo Credit: Jeff Shipwash

How does that make you a great CEO? Remember when we were kids and we always saw the good in people? Everyone we came across was awesome! Great CEOs see what is bright in people and work to bring that out in their entire staff. In addition, great CEOs see the value in growing their employee's careers just as much as growing their business. Of course, the good CEOs know finances, know how to read a pie chart, and know-how to increase revenue, but only the best have what I call the giver trait. This trait is someone who places just as much value in their admin assistant as they do their gross revenue on an income statement.

Thanks to Jeff Shipwash, Shipwash Properties LLC!

#17- Taking calculated risks

Jennifer Harder
Photo Credit: Jennifer Harder

A CEO should be able to take calculated risks after performing a thorough analysis of the probability associated with the decision's profit and loss consequences. Any CEO candidate who is risk-averse is unlikely to succeed, as an executive who is unable to take risks is likely to cause the firm to fall behind its competitors. A CEO should be able to take calculated risks that do not compromise the company's survival or profitability.

Thanks to Jennifer Harder, Jennifer Harder Mortgage Brokers!

#18- Sincerity

Photo Credit: Brett Welker

As CEO, organizational culture and success emanate from you. If you are trying to create a particular organizational culture that motivates people to work hard, be productive, collaborate and buy into the company's vision and value, you have to be the firmest, most sincere exemplar of and adherent to those vision and values. Nothing turns employees off and kills engagement quicker than a hypocritical CEO. If you want to be able to bring people together and inspire those around you to carry out the business objectives with enthusiasm, they need to see their CEO as someone who embodies sincerity.

Thanks to Brett Welker, Crush the GRE Test!

#19- The ability to learn from mistakes

Photo Credit: Gary Amaral

A CEO must be able to learn from past mistakes and apply what he or she has learned to the future. CEOs are just like the rest of us. It's inevitable that a CEO will make mistakes, but it's critical that he or she learns from them so that they don't happen again. If a CEO, for example, did not have an effective crisis management system in place when a situation developed, he or she should learn what they need for future reference and be able to create a strategy based on what went wrong the first time.

Thanks to Gary Amaral, Airborneapp!

#20- Trustworthiness

Photo Credit: Sam Browne

In my opinion, one of the most important yet essential skills one CEO needs to have is that he/she should be Trustworthy and honest. Their employees can trust him completely to build a better community and company. Employees have little incentive to trust you if you don't trust them. In a successful company, trust and honesty are essential. Maintain a healthy balance in your trust, though. Don't be overly trusting; it'll be a lot simpler for someone to take advantage of you if you are. But don't be overly trustworthy, because, as previously stated, no one will trust you in return. Consider that part of being trustworthy is retaining acceptable confidences while also not disguising the reality of circumstances that affect your business to strike the right balance.

Thanks to Sam Browne, Find a Band!

#21- Creative problem-solving

Photo Credit: Matt Weidle

While it may appear to be self-evident, the market evolves with time. It's critical to think beyond the box since there are often more effective approaches to attain corporate objectives. The same tried and true procedures may not always work. When a CEO thinks outside the box, it distinguishes them and their organization from competitors. Other factors, such as experience, contribute to a strong CEO's qualifications, but these crucial characteristics will keep you ahead of the curve. If you're deficient in any of these areas, investing in a business mentor, learning from other leaders, or researching personal growth skills are all excellent strategies to grow personally and professionally.

Thanks to Matt Weidle, Buyer's Guide!

#22- The ability to learn from one's mistakes

Photo Credit: Edward Mellett

A CEO must be able to learn from previous mistakes and apply what he or she has learned to the future. CEOs are just like the rest of us. It's inevitable that a CEO will make mistakes, but it's critical that he or she learns from them so that they don't happen again. If, as a CEO, I didn't have an effective crisis management system in place when a problem happened, I should understand what they needed for future reference and be able to create a strategy based on what went wrong the first time.

Thanks to Edward Mellett,!

#23- Foresight

Photo Credit: Rachel Klaver

A great CEO has the gift of foresight. He should be able to come up with ideas that would transcend into victory. Most companies generate success by being the first of their kind. Only a talented individual can come up with an idea and follow through. He will be able to make people believe in his concepts and make them follow. All the best CEOs have the ability to imagine outcomes before they even layout plans. And only those who are fearless can force their way through difficulties and hardships. They will persevere with their vision and go beyond where no one even dared to go before.

Thanks to Rachel Klaver, Identify Marketing!

#24- Two skills

Photo Credit: Harry Morton

A CEO has to be the inspirational and defining leader of the company; they embody what's at the core of the company and bring its vision to life. To convey this vision, they need exceptional communication skills. Communication is key in any setting, and as someone in charge, a CEO must communicate effectively to lead and motivate the team, explain expectations, address challenges and boost morale when necessary.

Thanks to Harry Morton, Lower Street!

#25- Organisation

Photo Credit: Manny Balani

The ability to organize everything in one skill a CEO must possess. You must be able to lead your people to glory. One way of doing that is by organization. A workforce that is not organized correctly tends to do things differently. Only when you become a single united force can you truly succeed. You should be able to bring different people with different backgrounds to believe in one single goal and objective. All of your employees should be united and act as one to achieve unprecedented growth.

Thanks to Manny Balani, Gotham Cigars!

#26- Charisma

Photo Credit: Emma Alda

As CEO for nearly 5 years of our startup, I realized that your success is going to be measured by the success of those beneath you. This is why one of the most important traits a CEO can harness in Charisma, or Poise. You may be good at influencing, but you need to be able to inspire people. Read some stories about the culture at Amazon, Apple, and Zappos and their employees undying loyalty to the brand. Inspiration will assure your team is going to consistently give 100%, or even more, if they have strong leadership. Your passion for your team equates to accountability and loyalty. Be that CEO.

Thanks to Emma Alda, ModestFish!

 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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