30 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 it's 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- Proper engagement with teammates

Photo Credit: Samuel Devyver

The role is ever-evolving, and I see the modern CEO as a “learn-it-all” rather than a “know-it-all.” With business hierarchies flattening and a stronger focus on fairness and equity across the organization, leaders must be willing to collaborate with their teammates and empower them to take a bigger role in the critical decision-making process. CEOs need to remain open to suggestions from teammates across the organization and acknowledge the blind spots they have to build better business strategies.

Thanks to Samuel Devyver, EasyLlama!

#2- Problem solving and communication

Photo Credit: Jessica Anvar

Some essential skills that you need to be a CEO are strong problem-solving and communication skills. People in this role must be able to face challenges head-on and make decisions efficiently. CEOs need excellent communication skills to relay these decisions and other ideas to people within the company. Great CEOS and great leaders in general never forget that human side of the job. They draw people in instead of ruling with an iron fist.

Thanks to Jessica Anvar, Lemon Law Experts!

#3- Understanding of market demands

Photo Credit: Andrea d’Agostini

To be a CEO one needs to have an understanding of why there's a real demand for your goods or services, and if there isn't, then how do you create it. A good CEO needs to be able to work on strategic marketing, meaning, understanding why the product is presented that way? What are the key differences? And what type of product communication will generate the biggest response? The CEO needs to be able to steer the organization set goals, policies, and be over the strategic planning by building the culture of the organization.

Thanks to Andrea d’Agostini, Monarchy Media!

#4- Intelligence, instinct, and flexibility

Photo Credit: Anne-Marie Faiola

Intelligence, instinct, and flexibility are key skills for being a successful CEO. You need to make smart decisions, often quickly, be intuitive enough to trust and follow your instincts, and be flexible since needs are often changing. It’s not for people who struggle to think on their feet or don’t trust themselves. Every decision, whether it yields the best results or not, is a learning experience. You have to trust your instincts and intelligence to move things forward.

Thanks to Anne-Marie Faiola, Bramble Berry Handcraft!

#5- Grit, perspective, and perseverance

Photo Credit: Peter Ord

There are many skills required to be a successful CEO but to me, the main three above all else are grit, perspective, and perseverance. There will be situations that present themselves that you have no experience dealing with. Grit is what gets you through these times, making it possible to figure things out, Meanwhile, with perspective, nothing is ever as bad or good as it seems and there is always opportunity in adversity. And to sum it up in an all-time favorite quote of mine, in terms of perseverance: Eighty percent of life is showing up.

Thanks to Peter Ord, GuideCX!

#6- A growth mindset

Photo Credit: Roy Morejon

Building a growth mindset is a skill that’s essential to being a CEO. CEOs must lead companies through difficult times, push teams to outdo their best, adapt to ever-changing markets all of which require the flexibility and willingness to learn that comes with a strong growth mindset. CEOs with growth mindsets cultivate fearless teams that hold each other and themselves accountable. All in all, a growth mindset is a must-have for a CEO that never wants their business or their own skills to stagnate.

Thanks to Roy Morejon, Enventys Partners!

#7- Understanding organizational needs

Photo Credit: Becky Brown

CEOs have plenty of skills, but one of the most essential skills for CEOs is understanding and meeting the organizational needs of the business. As CEOs, it is our core responsibility to provide the proper resources to help our team & business grow and succeed. We need to look 6 to 12 months in the future and anticipate the needs of our business so that we can fulfill them. We need to understand what keeps our business going, and we need to be able to meet its needs in every situation that arises.

Thanks to Becky Brown, Shopping Kim!

#8- Ability to focus

Photo Credit: Paige Arnof-Fenn

I started a global branding and digital marketing firm 20 years ago in Cambridge, MA. The key skill needed to be effective and productive today as we create a new normal is the ability to focus. There is so much noise out there with the pandemic, global unrest, social media, 24/7 news, climate change, etc. that for my clients and me staying focused with all the distractions we are bombarded with daily can be tough.  Distractions waste time and money so keeping priorities visible, setting goals, and staying accountable sets CEOs up for success today.

Thanks to Paige Arnof-Fenn, Mavens & Moguls!

#9- Strong financial and analytical skills

Photo Credit: Max Benz

Essential skills to be a CEO include the ability to develop and articulate a vision, the ability to build and motivate a high-performance team, the ability to make critical decisions under pressure, and strong financial and analytical skills. Being a CEO is one of the most challenging jobs in the world. It requires tremendous skill in several different areas. To be successful as a CEO, you need to be able to make critical decisions quickly and effectively under pressure, and you need strong financial and analytical skills.

Thanks to Max Benz, Banking Geek!

#10- Having a welcoming nature

Photo Credit: Paweł Hytry

A CEO should ooze confidence in the team and organization. Besides commanding
the organization, they are accountable for all of the things happening in the company. If a CEO does not have a welcoming nature, it would be difficult for the team to communicate. The CEO cannot make informed decisions without proper communication, and corporations may fail. A CEO should have a welcoming nature, so the team does not hesitate in sharing opposing views and facts.

Thanks to Paweł Hytry, Spacelift!

#11- Good listening skills

Photo Credit: Tim Stumbles

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—to talk less and listen more. Great CEOs are distinguished by their consistent listening and seeking the ideas of others. They know how to filter other views and incorporate them into their plans. Listening keeps the leader well-informed about the knowledge and perspective of those around them and increases their leadership capacity. Not only do they get an influx of new thoughts, but the employees also understand that their views matter to the organization, creating an environment of trust and loyalty.

Thanks to Tim Stumbles, Office Timeline!

#12- Creativity

Photo Credit: Charles Cridland

I believe creativity is an underappreciated trait for leaders. Every business should have a creative CEO or someone who appreciates thinking out-of-the-box. In turn, creativity plays a huge role in building a great brand and a company to work for. Being led by someone creative helps trickle down that trait through the company's veins and remove any signs of complacency. It helps the business quickly adapt to the change and stand out amongst the crowd.

Thanks to Charles Cridland, Your Parking Space!

#13- Ability to Collaborate

Photo Credit: Garrett Hayes

Collaboration is a key skill that is needed to succeed as a CEO. CEOs should encourage and be a catalyst for collaboration amongst their employees. If a CEO is not collaborative it can have a negative impact on the innovation, productivity, and trust between employees and within the organizational culture. When you are collaborative as a CEO it creates space to become an open-minded, decisive, and approachable leader of a company.

Thanks to Garrett Hayes, Birding Hub!

#14- Ability to make effective decisions

Photo Credit: Brett Sohns

Being able to make decisions, especially quickly when needed, is important as a CEO. Sometimes it can be difficult to know exactly what is the best decision, but being able to quickly assess the situation and decide how to approach it can make a huge difference in the outcome. At the same time, it’s also important to be empathetic. You’re likely going to be in charge of people, and maybe a lot of people. You have to be able to see things from their perspective.

Thanks to Brett Sohns, Life Goal Investments!

#15- Strategic thinking

Photo Credit: Leo Livshetz

Strategic thinking includes a lot of different factors. But ultimately it comes down to identifying trends and capitalizing on them when you can, measuring data and performance metrics in order to make changes when appropriate, and so forth. Strategic thinking is one of the most highly sought-after skills for upper-level executive positions, so make sure you’re ready to start thinking strategically if you want to become a CEO.

Thanks to Leo Livshetz, UnHide!

#16- Collaborative skills

Photo Credit: Larissa Pickens

Collaborative skills prove to be essential to a CEO on several levels. The ability to collaborate effectively helps create an inspiring and influential working relationship with employees. It results in a smooth exchange of ideas and authority with managers and helps build a better leadership and management structure. And outside the organization, these skills help a CEO forge mutually beneficial partnerships by initiating new coalitions and reiterating old ones.

Thanks to Larissa Pickens, Everfumed!

#17- Must be financially literate

Photo Credit: Nathan Liao

In order to be successful, a CEO must be financially literate. Having strong financial literacy is very important to run a profitable business and maximize the bottom line. It's practically impossible to stir a ship in the right direction without knowing where it is and where it's going. Financial data provides this information to CEOs. In addition, it is important for CEOs to be skilled in sales and marketing. This will help them outshine their competitors and reach greater levels of success.

Thanks to Nathan Liao, CMA Exam Academy!

#18- Good communication

Photo credit: Teo Vanyo

Excellent verbal and written communication abilities A CEO's ability to communicate effectively is critical to their success as a leader. Communication is essential in any situation, and as someone in authority, a CEO must understand how to communicate effectively to improve morale when needed. From motivating their team to completing projects on time, a CEO's ability to share what they require, whom they require it when they require it, and how things should be done is critical to success.

Thanks to Teo Vanyo, Stealth Agents!

#19- Prioritization of work

Photo Credit: Elizabeth Ruth

An essential skill you need as a CEO would be delegating. Prioritizing which tasks make more sense for you to do and which still need to be done but can be implemented by a team member is important. This way, you can focus on the vision of the business and how you will get there instead of getting lost in busy work that leaves you with little to no time or space to think bigger.

Thanks to Elizabeth Ruth, ER Marketing Services!

#20- Marketing abilities of new age

Shiv Gupta,
Photo Credit: Shiv Gupta,

Being willing to take on new challenges is one of the most important qualities a CEO should possess. As a result, before starting a firm, entrepreneurs should master the fundamentals of marketing tactics. Online learning can help you get a leg up on the competition. A series of online business skilling courses, such as content marketing, SEO, Facebook, and Instagram marketing, may help you learn the fundamentals of traditional and digital marketing.

Thanks to Shiv Gupta, Incrementors Web Solutions!

#21- Seeing an overall view

Photo Credit: Robin Young

As an autistic entrepreneur, I lack some of the skills people often regard as essential – such as being good with people, high-level communicator, etc. Instead, I regard other skills as being more essential. For me, being able to see the overall picture (from big to small elements), realizing when I'm wrong about something (and being able to admit it), and having the discipline to get the work done are all essential skills.

Thanks to Robin Young, Garden Furniture Sales!

#22- Ability to learn from mistakes

Photo Credit: Salvador Ordorica

A CEO must learn from past mistakes and apply what they have learned to the future. We are only human, after all. Mistakes will happen, but as a CEO, we must learn from them to don't happen again. For example, when a circumstance arose, and I didn't have an effective crisis management system in place, I learned from my error. I made sure that this situation would not happen again and developed a strategy based on what I learned the first time.

Thanks to Salvador Ordorica, The Spanish Group!

#23- Technical expertise

Photo Credit: Michelle Devani

As a CEO myself, we should embody technical skills between professionalization and automation to represent a CEO-like material. Also, it's essential to include incivility, transparency, and integrity. These skills will help achieve trust and respect for those working with us. Also, we can represent camaraderie that supports leaders and organization members to work together in preparation and solution for incoming risks, working transitions, and future challenges.

Thanks to Michelle Devani, Lovedevani!

#24- Risk management

Photo Credit: Kathleen Ahmmed

Risk management is an integral skill that every CEO must develop, should they want their companies to thrive in 2022 and beyond. This is because if there's one thing that the pandemic has shown us it is that one must be prepared ahead of time for whatever may come next, in order to effectively reduce financial loss among other issues that may potentially arise. Naturally, this means becoming a strategic and agile thinker with the ability to communicate and motivate the organization to success and continuity, even while under volatile circumstances.

Thanks to Kathleen Ahmmed, USCarJunker!

#25- People skills

Photo Credit: Claire Curzon

CEO should be approachable and collaborative with their communication and ability to lead ‘from the top' demonstrating an ethical work ethic that in turn filters down the company creating a culture of motivated and dedicated team members. Some of the most successful CEOs I've worked with have strong conviction when it comes to decision-making skills, owning decisions, and being agile enough to consider the risks while managing growth aspirations – great communication and the ability to engage teams enables the company to be agile and move forward with group buy-in.

Thanks to Claire Curzon, Brighter Directions!

#26- Being a team player

Photo Credit: Steven Walker

You should be familiar with your staff. Your staff or your juniors do not fear you. They should also express their ideas in front of you if they feel that this idea could also work. They can share their problems with you to provide them with some support. Working as a team is the most critical responsibility of the CEO. They should know how to make their juniors works as a team. If they do not work as a team, their growth may stop. So, they should address their team members regularly not to have any difference.

Thanks to Steven Walker, Spylix!

#27- Ready to change according to situation

Photo Credit: Marty Spargo

Running a business comes with a lot of unpredictability and uncertainty, which basically implies that a business owner should always be able to keep up with the constantly changing factors affecting his business. A business leader who resists change will eventually bring his business and people down with him because change can't be resisted, it can only be adapted. Adapting to change is never easy because it requires adjustment and admittedly, it's human nature to get attached to the things we're used to, making us feel that change is a threat, as it forces us out of our comfort zone.

Thanks to Marty Spargo, REIZE!

#28- Emotional intelligence

Photo Credit; Amira Irfan

It is essential for a CEO to be emotionally intelligent and have empathy, which makes it easier for them to understand other people's needs. This trait is often overlooked. CEOs with emotional intelligence are usually down-to-earth and have relatable personalities. This allows them to form strong relationships with every member of their organization. These relationships are what they thrive for, and in turn, it makes them feel good about the work they do.

Thanks to Amira Irfan, A Self Guru!

#29- Accountability and transparency

Photo credit: Chris M. Walker

I have learned that the most important skills are soft skills. Hard skills can be learned/taught with a quick turnaround; however, soft skills are what sets a leader apart. The soft skills essential for a CEO, are accountability and transparency. This rings true in every industry. Over the years, corruption has played a large role and ruined the reputation of a CEO. I believe that accountability is essential to ensure that you are acting to lead, know the full extent of that. You have the trust of so many stakeholders, being transparent and honest about your actions is vital.

Thanks to Chris M. Walker, Legiit!

#30- Ability to think strategically

Photo Credit: Emir Bacic

As a CEO, you need to think strategically and see the big picture. You need to understand where your company is heading, both short-term and long-term, and develop a plan to get there. If you can't think strategically, you won't make good decisions for your company. When handling difficult situations, you'll also need to be able to think on your feet and come up with a plan quickly.

Thanks to Emir Bacic, PriceListo!

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

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