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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- Inspiration and creativity

Photo Credit: Dean Kaplan

An entrepreneur or business owner needs many skills. Inspiration and creativity are needed to develop business ideas. Planning skills so there is a path to success. Marketing so there are customers. Financial management so there is money available for investment and discipline so there are profits. Management skills are required to execute in delivering a quality product or service at a competitive price. Getting along with people and the ability to motivate staff, and customers are critical attributes

Thanks to Dean Kaplan, The Kaplan Group!


#2- People skills

Photo Credit: Derek Sall

Sure, there are skills such as leadership, ethics, transparency, risk-taking, and decision-making that are all incredibly important. But the most important, in my opinion, is people skills. Being an open-minded, charismatic, and friendly person is essential to creating an organizational culture suitable for your business. Everyone looks up to the CEO and having an optimistic attitude even in difficult situations genuinely influences the employees.

Thanks to Derek Sall, LifeandMyFinance!


#3- Strong communication

Photo Credit: Jason Dempsey

I don’t think there’s anything more important to be a good CEO than having strong communication skills. Being able to get your message across succinctly, in a friendly and easy-to-understand way, is going to greatly improve your employee engagement and your productivity. So much time is lost having to explain things to employees multiple times or fix mistakes made because instructions weren’t made clear enough. Strong communication skills eliminate issues.

Thanks to Jason Dempsey, Home City Living!


#4- Empathy

Photo Credit: Ishtiaq Ahmed

I think this is overlooked a lot of the time, but I can’t think of anything more important – especially in today’s climate – than empathy. You need to be able to talk to your employees like they’re human beings, instead of just bodies in desk chairs. Your team members are going to have tough times, bad days, and moments of frustration and it is your job as a manager to understand them and work with them to find solutions or accommodations so they can continue to be the best employee that they can be.

Thanks to Ishtiaq Ahmed, Coursetakers!


#5- Growth mindset

Photo Credit: Stefan Grasic

You need to have a growth mindset, not naturally, but actively working on having a growth mindset. If an employee comes to you or a manager and states that something is difficult or undoable, you need to be able to open your mind, think outside the box and find the solution, instead of just assuming that things are hopeless. A growth mindset is going to help keep your company going no matter what comes your way because you’re going to be able to persevere through the tough times.

Thanks to Stefan Grasic, Business24-7!


#6- Charisma

Photo Credit: Granger McCollough

I think charisma is an incredibly important skill to have as a CEO and one that is sometimes overlooked. Being charismatic can massively improve your leadership, and it makes it easier to motivate a team so that they will follow you, leading to business success and growth. Charisma also allows you to share your ideas in a way that they are better perceived, and can overall act as a bit of a cheat code when it comes to networking. It’s definitely a skill worth developing and improving

Thanks to Granger McCollough, Elite Patio Direct!


#7- Controlled emotion

Photo Credit: Ella Ding

A CEO must be able to maintain control over his or her emotions. However, this does not suggest that a CEO must be rigid in behavior and fail to applaud successes or point out failures. Rather the intensity of emotion must be maintained in a manner such that colleagues and subordinates understand the underlying meaning of the emotion. A CEO must ideally not display excessive levels of anger at small mistakes or become overjoyed at small wins.

Thanks to Ella Ding, Smoothies N Cookies!


#8- Retaining talent

Photo Credit: Jonathan Gans

As a CEO, you can only go so far on your own or with your co-founders: you need to have a passionate, energized, and talented team who is excited about your mission to help you properly build and scale your business. Ultimately, as a CEO, especially in the early stages, it is your responsibility to identify, recruit, and galvanize the right people to bring on. The key skills that go into attracting and retaining talent are communication, management, and empathy.

Thanks to Jonathan Gans, Kahana!


#9- Perseverance

Photo Credit: Derek Gallimore

I think the most important skill that a CEO has to have is perseverance. Running a business could be extremely unpredictable. One moment you are making good money, and the next, you could be drowning in debt. Being persevering could help you wade through the challenges and eventually become successful in your ventures. Also, a persevering leader could be a good motivation for employees to not give up and continue working until the company reaches its goals.

Thanks to Derek Gallimore, Outsource Accelerator!


#10- Problem-solving

Photo Credit: Thomas Samuels

The very foundation of business is problem-solving. Successful CEOs can identify pain points that their target customers experience and gaps in the market, then provide solutions to those problems. But even beyond this fundamental element of business, to grow a company, CEOs need to keep applying their problem-solving skills. They must identify roadblocks or inefficiencies in their own operations as they expand, as well as find ways to streamline processes, improve efficiency, and create or source solutions as needed.

Thanks to Thomas Samuels, Cardinal Expo!


#11- Openness

Photo Credit: Leonardo Gomez

On the one hand, the senior leader must take all necessary precautions to preserve the privacy of the business. On the other hand, to continue the market trend toward openness and transparency. Companies are obliged to have up-to-date knowledge of their industry, maximize employee involvement, and communicate with partners and clients through social networks and instant messengers. As a result, managers are unsure about which position to take: protection or openness.

Thanks to Leonardo Gomez, Try Runball!


#12- Soft skills

Photo Credit: Jen Wan

A CEO must possess sociability, teamwork, the ability to learn new things, inventiveness, time management abilities, erudition, and effective communication abilities. You and everyone on your team will urgently need these talents if you want to recruit the most competent workers in the upcoming years. In 2022, a successful CEO will possess the abilities to swiftly navigate, and change, be adaptable and personable, and comprehend technologies. You must practice them right away.

Thanks to Jen Wan,  Soteri Skin!


#13- Decision-making

Photo Credit: Vikas Chaudhary

Though it takes a good skillset to become a successful CEO, one of the most important skills required should be decision-making. According to me, in the entire journey of a CEO, there come uncountable instances when a CEO has to make decisions under different circumstances. Those decisions can have a huge impact on the future of the company, thus, it is important to make the right decisions and the right time for the welfare of the company. If a CEO fails to make the right decision, he and his company will eventually face the consequences.

Thanks to Vikas Chaudhary, Nihal Fashion!


#14- Stress resistance and discipline

Photo Credit: Isabella Gordan

If you want to be a successful CEO, you should learn how to manage stress and take control of the situation. You should not take everything personally and treat problems as an opportunity to grow and become stronger. And long-term stress resistance depends on how disciplined you are. Discipline gives you control over certain things and makes everyday decisions easier, so you won’t have to waste your energy on them. People are always pulling you in different directions with financing & product.

Thanks to Isabella Gordan, Sleepys Express!


#15- Listening

Photo Credit: John Ricco

In most cases, a CEO can only be as good as the other staff working for them. I’d say the most essential skill to be a good CEO is the ability to actively listen to and engage with your employees. This doesn’t just mean hearing what they say to you but being able to have a two-way conversation about their work and any developments at the company. A really effective CEO will have a conversation with their employees to get a truly full understanding of how it will affect everyone involved.

Thanks to John Ricco, Atlantic Group!


#16- Optimism

Photo Credit: Michelle Henry

Optimism is the difference between a good CEO and a great CEO. Optimism is when a person can positively look at things. Therefore, it is crucial for a CEO to be hopeful and confident about their management and should always be ready to boost the morale of their employees. Every company deserves a CEO who can be aware of the happenings in their company and manage it properly. A CEO should be ready to confront challenges and should remain energetic to reach their target.

Thanks to Michelle Henry, Outdoor Dog Fun!


#17- Bravery and maturity

Photo Credit: Chris Myles

Risks and challenges are part of our daily life, not just being a CEO but also part of this world we come in front of several problems. Those challenges and risks are the part that makes us stronger and boosts our spirits. Sometimes risky decisions can hamper your business, but most often, they help you become a better business leader. One should never fear taking risks because at times, some risky decisions are the pathbreaker, and they make you stronger.

Thanks to Chris Myles, Golf Cart Go!


#18- The ability to lead

Photo Credit: Jennifer Spinelli

If you want to be successful in this role, you need to possess various skills and use them to your advantage. As a CEO, you need to be able to lead and inspire your team. You need to be able to set a vision for the company and then rally your employees behind that vision. To do this, you need to be a good communicator and have the ability to motivate people. You also need to be able to make tough decisions and handle stress and pressure. A CEO needs to be able to think strategically.

Thanks to Jennifer Spinelli, Watson Buys!


#19- Motivating employees

Photo Credit: Thomas Wright

It’s important to know how to motivate your employees and manage their emotions. You need to be able to communicate well with them and be able to understand their needs, while also being able to understand your own emotions when dealing with difficult situations. They motivate their employees with their own enthusiasm and give them growth opportunities. A CEO should also be extremely organized and willing to invest in the process, especially at the start.

Thanks to Thomas Wright, The Lipo Group!


#20- Accountability

Photo Credit: Ann McFerran

To be a CEO, you need to be ready to be accountable to not just yourself but an entire team that relies on you. It can be a heavy weight to bear at times because it comes with many responsibilities and pressure. You have to be ready to wake up every day and be the best version of yourself because you are serving something bigger than yourself. To be an entrepreneur, you need passion, drive, and discipline because, at the end of the day, you have control over how your company does and the success of yourself and everyone who works for you.

Thanks to Ann McFerran, Glamnetic!


#21-  The ability to deliver

Photo Credit: Rengie Wisper

I think the most important skill you need to be a CEO is the ability to deliver. You have to keep up with your employees and understand what they want from you. If you are not delivering, then people will lose faith in your ability to lead them. You also have to be able to make decisions quickly. If something comes up and you don't know how to handle it, then it's going to be too late by the time you figure out what needs to be done.

Thanks to Rengie Wisper, Ever Wallpaper!


#22- Motivation

Photo Credit: Christel Oerum

In my opinion, a CEO needs to have the motivation to be successful. If you don’t believe in what you are doing, or if there is no drive behind your business, then this lack of care may limit your business development in the long run! For example, the motivation behind my business is that I want to inform others about diabetes as much as I can because I know what it feels like to be lost when you get that diagnosis. With this, I try my absolute best to get my content as far around the world as I can.

Thanks to Christel Oerum, Diabetes Strong!


#23- Vision

Photo Credit: Kaitie Weaver

One of the essential skills for a CEO is to have a Vision. A CEO of a company can only add to its success after success if he has a vision of how to proceed. Having a good team and good engagement with them will only work when the person knows where the company needs to be led. For example, Ford company bought parking spaces for Ford cars to be parked to increase the sale of the Ford cars when they were facing a loss. Similarly, Nokia Company changes its direction from Paper-mill to a Mobile manufacturing company.

Thanks to Kaitie Weaver, Helcim!


#24- Having multiple business hacks

Photo Credit: Anthony Reeves

Having multiple business hacks in his pockets is the one essential skill that a CEO must have. Now businesses face many adversities with many diversifications. Therefore, a CEO needs to be vigilant about emerging trends and adapt to them with agility. And no one can do this without having multiple business hacks. From technology to transformation and from relationship building to marketing, a CEO must come up with unique solutions that his team must act upon to achieve great results for the business in real-time.

Thanks to Anthony Reeves, Rural Residence!


#25- Emotional intelligence

Photo Credit: Ben Grindlow

Emotional intelligence is one of the essential skills you need to succeed as a CEO. A CEO should know how to handle the unanticipated challenges of the firm. They should know when is the right time to involve emotions. They must not easily dwell on situations that can make them worse. Being emotionally intelligent will enable them to work effectively and overcome problems immediately. You also have to be able to imagine your brand in the future having met those goals, leveraging your motivation to continue.

Thanks to Ben Grindlow, ProXpn!


#26- Humility

Photo Credit: Jeff Goodwin

Humility is essential for a CEO. A leader that's willing to disclose both his strengths and weaknesses to his team is one that values said the team for several reasons. Admitting weaknesses allows others to step in and fill gaps. On the other hand, neglecting to admit the same, leads to burnout from striving to prove that you lack nothing. Additionally, vulnerability is contagious and employees will begin to help each other with pain points. In the end, humility equals strength.

Thanks to Jeff Goodwin, Orgain!


#27- Business development skills

Photo Credit: Dr. Catrise Austin

I believe that every CEO needs to master business strategy and business development skills. Creating (or recreating a company's strategic vision and mission to set the overall direction of the company is a major key to the company’s success. What has really helped me in business for the past 26 years as a CEO is doing a deep dive into learning business development. The benefits are priceless when a CEO masters fundamental business development skills such as communication, marketing, sales, media, and networking

Thanks to Dr. Catrise Austin, VIP Smiles Dentistry!


#28- The ability to translate vision into action

Photo Credit: Robyn Newmark

This is one of the biggest reasons why founders and visionaries sometimes don’t end up being the best CEO for their companies. Being a CEO is a lot more than just having a vision. It’s all about having the ability to translate that vision into something that can be acted upon by the people you’re leading. As a CEO, it is on your shoulders to empower your people to be able to execute their part of making that vision a reality. A CEO must also be able to adapt well to change to effectively lead their teams and companies to future success.

Thanks to Robyn Newmark, Newmark Beauty!


#29- Radical trust

Photo Credit: Liam Wilson

Being a CEO is not for perfectionists or people who think no one can do better than them at what they do. If you have that kind of mindset, then you’re better off as a top-performing employee, not a leader. A leader doesn’t pretend they’re the most skilled person in the room. In fact, it is in their best interest to be the dumbest person in the room who empowers people who are a lot better than they are. A CEO must radically trust their people to do their jobs excellently so the whole organization benefits.

Thanks to Liam Wilson, Lottery ‘n Go!


#30- Stoicism

Photo Credit: Allan M. Siegel

At those moments of difficulty, when something that you can’t have predicted has gone wrong, your team will be looking to you for guidance on how to react. While you may be internally panicking, the practice of stoicism will be needed to at least outwardly remain calm, so that your team does as well. What will be needed in an emergency is professionalism and practicality, and if you start to panic then your team will see this as a guide that it is time to panic and likely mimic how you are behaving, taking you further away from any resolution.

Thanks to Allan M. Siegel, Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata Siegel!


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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