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- Good people management skills

Photo Credit: Alex Smith

Sometimes you have to make difficult decisions that your team does not support. It could be about funding, letting go of a popular but underperforming employee, or deciding where to focus your efforts in the coming year. You want your partners and other executives to support you, but ultimately, CEOs must make difficult decisions that will irritate some people.

Thanks to Alex Smith, Luckybobbleheads!

#2- Keep learning faster than the competition

Photo Credit: Mila Garcia

This was made especially apparent by the pandemic, which showed that business success & continuity heavily depends on one's ability to lead under any circumstance, especially in the midst of unexpected challenges. This usually requires developing a capacity for taking calculated risks, making mistakes, and learning from them, as well as the desire to keep experimenting with new ideas.

Thanks to Mila Garcia, iPaydayLoans!

#3- Understanding pain points

Photo Credit: Adit Jain

You need to understand their pain points, and requirements before coming up with a solution. Paying attention to what your employees need is equally important. Employees are what build a company, and as a CEO, you need to be proactive and hear what they are saying. This will help you create a great and inclusive company culture as well as ensure productivity is high.

Thanks to Adit Jain, Leena AI!

#4- Recruiting top talent

Photo Credit: Stella Cooper

Employee development it’s a vital part of retaining employees as CEOs must focus on the top candidates and ensure they feel empowered to do their best work in support of an obliged purpose. Therefore, a CEO must set a transparent vision and show employees how their contributions can support it. Additionally, they should implement processes and systems to develop employee talent.

Thanks to Stella Cooper, PaydayLoansUK!

#5- Ability to know who to trust

Photo Credit: Granger McCollough

When you become a CEO of a business, there is a likelihood that you have a strong connection with this business especially if you yourself have built it from the ground up. However, it comes to a point where you physically cannot manage every aspect of your business and still be successful, so you need to trust others to do the job for you, trust that they have the same goals as you do, and trust that they’ll do a good job of it. It is difficult to give control of aspects of your business to other people but to be a successful CEO and watch the business grow, it is a skill you need to learn.

Thanks to Granger McCollough, Elite Patio Direct!

#6- Strategic thinking

Photo Credit: Jake Marmulstein

C-suite professionals are business drivers. In order to drive a business, they have to be able to look into future possibilities of what could be and use their visions to inspire others as well. Leadership: the workforce is the engine that keeps the business running. Getting back to my previous driver analogy, C-suites must have an intimate understanding of how the workforce works—what makes them tick and how to inspire them to do greater.

Thanks to Jake Marmulstein, Groundbreaker!

#7- Adaptability with an openness to change

Photo Credit: Anjela Mangrum

The CEO’s responsibility is to think creatively and welcome new ideas with the aim of improving their company’s workflow, supporting product development, and streamlining any services their organization offers. Adaptability to newer methods is also a key skill for any business leader in these unpredictable times when technology is advancing fast, and there’s often no choice but to upgrade your business operations to keep pace with your competitors.

Thanks to Anjela Mangrum, Mangrum Career Solutions!

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#8- Collaboration skills

Photo Credit: Harriet Chan

Developing your collaboration skills is essential. Being able to effectively work with others is key to being successful in any business venture. Make sure you hone your skills in this area so that you can be the best leader possible. Without the proper ability to collaborate and work with a team, it'll be difficult to get anywhere as a CEO. You need to be able to communicate your vision and then work together with others to make it a reality.

Thanks to Harriet Chan, CocoFinder!

#9- Energizing team members

Photo Credit: Adam Ng

Grit, determination, resourcefulness, & the tenacity to overcome obstacles can be summed up in one word: drive. CEO that achieves big, bodacious outcomes is skilled at energizing every member of the team to be aligned with their mission. He or she is masterful at ensuring that there is follow by sensing when to make a shift in their approach, when to maintain momentum, & when to take things up a notch to lead the team across the finish line.

Thanks to  Adam Ng, Trusted!

#10- Forecasting market conditions

Photo Credit: Konstantin Kuligin

Market conditions play a major role in defining a brand’s performance, which is why a CEO must have the foresight to accurately read and predict existing and future market conditions. These skills allow the company to adopt tactics that will help negate the effects of upcoming adversities, moves that could even mean the difference between going down or survival. The ability to forecast market conditions also gives a leader the advantage of zeroing in on solutions that enable extraordinary growth.

Thanks to Konstantin Kuligin, K5 Mortgage!

#11- Define company culture

Photo Credit: Dr. Azmaira Maker

It is entirely up to the CEOs and entrepreneurs leading the brand to define this culture and introduce crucial improvements to it at regular intervals. These leaders are responsible for creating programs ranging from employee engagement and recognition to diversity and inclusivity, and primarily influence the adoption and incentivization of these initiatives. Without a leader showing the way, no organization can define, adopt, and commit to company culture.

Thanks to Dr. Azmaira Maker, Aspiring Families!

#12- Discipline 

Photo Credit: Yanna Berman

Discipline has to be one of the top skills in my opinion. Most entrepreneurs get started on their own, which means you need to motivate yourself when things get challenging. It's easy to keep going when everything is working out as planned, but you need that discipline no matter what situation you're in. Lack of discipline could derail your success, and slow down business growth. Your focus will help you get from point A to point B, and I absolutely think I need that in order to do my job well as a CEO.

Thanks to Yanna Berman, Urban Mamaz!

#13- Negotiation skills

Photo Credit: Alan Harder

All CEOs should be able to negotiate effectively. This is a talent that isn't often spoken of when it comes to founding and running a business, but it is critical to its success. To help your business expand, you negotiate contracts with suppliers, clients, contractors, and other organizations. However, if you have poor negotiating skills, you could end up costing the firm a lot of money in lost revenue/overpaid services.

Thanks to Alan Harder, Mortgage Broker!

#14- Curiosity and compassionate

Photo Credit: Theola Tinney

To me, the most essential skill to become a CEO is to have curiosity. The power of curiosity will make you think out of the box, will be able to make improvements, encourage innovations, and will make you think ahead and anticipate things. A CEO also needs to be compassionate to the business. This is a soft skill that not many CEOs have. By being compassionate, you will be bringing positive vibes and energy to the working place.

Thanks to Theola Tinney, Vinpit!

#15- Delegation

Photo Credit: Yang Zhang

Identifying the right person for the right task at a given moment is hugely important and surprisingly complex. This is a task that requires weighing strengths and weaknesses and benefits and drawbacks in a personal light—no easy feat for even the most experienced CEOs. Luckily, it is something you get better at over time, and having the right support staff can help you make an informed decision.

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Thanks to Yang Zhang, Plasmic!

#16- Patience

Photo Credit: Erin Neumann

Being patient is one of the most important skills one needs to have to be a successful CEO. You must know that the business world is never a bed of roses. You’ll encounter multiple challenges like financial struggles, failed partnerships, and unhappy clients. And the only way to overcome it all is to be patient and learn from your mistakes. You can’t achieve anything if you let your nerves get the better of you. So, you must stay calm and patiently navigate your team and your overall business towards success and positivity.

Thanks to Erin Neumann, Be Aligned Web Design!

#17- Innovating

Photo Credit: Lyle Florez

Globalization, a competitive economic environment, rising inflation, and rapid technological innovation mean that businesses must adapt swiftly. The ability of any firm to consistently innovate and provide new features in products and services that competitors haven't yet marketed is critical to the organization's success. A CEO's capacity to foresee the future and design strategies to combat change while assuring long-term profitability is critical to his or her success.

Thanks to Lyle Florez, EasyPeopleSearch!

#18- Sense of stoicism and mental toughness

Photo Credit: Mark Seemann

A key skill you need to develop as a CEO is a sense of stoicism and mental toughness. When you're a first-time entrepreneur, you're naturally optimistic that your idea is going to fly. However, it takes time for a business to take flight. You must be incredibly single-minded and have faith in your vision and what you've built. After building multiple successful businesses, I've learned that to succeed, you need a fundamental belief that what you're doing is right, you just haven't found the right customers yet.

Thanks to Mark Seemann, StaffCircle!

#19- Time management

Photo Credit: Dave Cimon

If a person doesn't know how to manage their time, they can’t guarantee to manage the whole business. Business sounds good but it goes a lot and a lot behind it. Dealing with investors, dealing with employees, looking into each area, seeing which areas are improving and which are failing, and a lot more. And if a CEO fails in this, the business will crash down. Hence, how they align their work and schedule with time matters.

Thanks to Dave Cimon, Costumes Heaven!

#20- Consistency

Photo Credit: Nizel Adams

For me being able to build & manage a business means finding a way to stay consistent. Your clients also appreciate having someone they can depend on as well. That trust is key to everything & will have people coming back to you simply because they know you will be there for them. So establishing a routine and then maintaining it, especially through that grueling daily grind creates a certain character value that puts you at the cream of the crop.

Thanks to Nizel Adams, Nizel Co.!

#21- Adaptability

Photo Credit: McKay Krey

Transitioning to hybrid work or going completely remote proved difficult but now, it's the new normal. Those who were able to adapt to these changes have found opportunities that weren't available or even possible before. A CEO who can adapt to different circumstances is an indication of a business that can survive. Resisting change can only be harmful to the company. That's why a CEO needs to be flexible, have foresight, and welcoming to change.

Thanks to McKay Krey,!

#22- Solid relational abilities

Photo Credit: John Hart

Openness is of the utmost importance in any setting and as somebody in control, a CEO should figure out how to convey and support morals when essential. From inspiring their group to finishing projects on time, a CEO should have the option to impart what they need, from whom, when they need it and how things ought to be finished. Top leaders are reliably straightforward and adjusted in their correspondence.

Thanks to John Hart, Falcon River!

#23- Ability to learn from mistakes

Photo Credit: Dr. Micheal K Newman

Skill to learn from past mistakes. To be a CEO, you must have the ability to look back and the ability to look forward. In addition, you must be able to learn from your previous mistakes and apply this information to your future endeavors. Relationship-building skills. Relationships we form throughout our lives may either benefit or hinder us. For example, a successful CEO must be able to cultivate and maintain long-term business connections to generate positive word-of-mouth publicity and boost the company's bottom line.

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Thanks to Dr. Michael K. Newman, Michael K. Newman!

#24- The power of action

Photo Credit: David Reid

Depending on the work environment, the CEO must be able to take rapid action to meet the company's needs. While the CEO should avoid making snap judgments. This needs the CEO to be willing to accept the risks determined after completing a full-scale study of prospects related to the consequences of profit and loss of decision.  The CEO must be willing to take chances, but these risks should not put its survival at risk.

Thanks to David Reid, VEM Tooling!

#25- Long-term vision and attention to detail

Photo Credit: Craig Miller

A successful CEO ensures that their workflow is producing the maximum amount of output with their energy input. Leaders who understand how small inefficiencies can become exponentially compounded as the company continues to grow is a skill that is needed in the business. Too much tearing down and rebuilding the business model may lead to its collapse. A CEO should also be extremely organized and willing to invest in the process, especially at the start.

Thanks to Craig Miller, Academia Labs LLC!

#26- Empathy in leadership

Photo Credit: Steven Athwal

“An essential skill for a CEO is EMPATHY. One way a leader can show more empathy in his leadership is by “taking a personal interest in their employees”. Leaders who do not take emotions into account lose employee engagement. CEO does not need to be emotionally attached but it is important to be a little sensible. A huge difference is made when a CEO is aware of these emotions and shows interest in that part of a person's experience.

Thanks to Steven Athwal, The Big Phone Store!

#27- Approachability

Photo Credit: Linda G Thompson

CEOs are culture setters and models for the company. Culture-setting without engaging the employees is an impossibility. A friendly and approachable CEO creates an environment where employees feel comfortable sharing their ideas and concerns. At the end of the day, companies with approachable CEOs tend to perform better not only because the employees are satisfied with the leadership, but also because employee engagement with the CEO leads to better internal practices, and amazing workplace cultures.

Thanks to Linda G Thompson, Notta.Ai!

#28- Ability to communicate effectively

Photo Credit: Jaanus Põder

A CEO needs to define who he or she really is. If he has a strong character and if he's comfortable with himself his way of leading the company will come through clearly and really set the stage for being successful. It is the most important skill for a successful CEO is, the skill to communicate effectively. If you can't communicate that effectively to your coworkers and employees then those grand schemes will never be more than ideas in your mind.

Thanks to Jaanus Põder,!

#29- Ability to think creatively

Photo Credit: Ricky Liu

Innovation and adaptability are often the keys to a company's success. I believe that CEOs must think creatively and logically and welcome new ideas to keep their businesses progressive. It's important to think outside the box because sometimes there are better ways to achieve business goals. The same tried, and true methods don't always work. But at the same time, he should not discount experience and data. Out-of-the-box thinking has to be balanced with rationality.

Thanks to Ricky Liu, Yoyipet!

#30- Experimentation

Photo Credit: Eric Seto

As the CEO and Founder are to scale my business to reach my target audience. When I am getting my business off the ground, it requires me to try out different social media strategies, content promotion strategies, and also paid advertisement strategies to see which one works the best. Once my business reaches a certain plateau, If I want the business to double in size, then I need to double the number of experiments I run.

Thanks to Eric Seto, Eric Seto Research Ltd!

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

Ashok - 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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