29 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- Leadership qualities

Photo Credit: Yemisi Iyilade

Achieving success as a CEO is not just down to luck, but also requires grit and an openness to learn. These qualities will help you thrive in the face of adversity while also taking on new challenges with enthusiasm. One must also be willing to make sacrifices and accept accountability for the decision made. The rewards can be fulfilling as it gives you unique opportunities to innovate and create new products or service. Through hard work, dedication, and learning leadership skills, anyone can become a great leader and make remarkable achievements.

Thanks to Yemisi Iyilade

#2- Ability to listen

Photo Credit: Zamir Zamir Shukho

I think one of the most important skills you need to have as a CEO is the ability to inspire, engage and motivate other people on achieving the company’s common goals. You need to show your colleagues the large vision. You always need to have the ability to influence rather than dictate. If that will be your approach then the right talents will be attracted to join your team and share your company’s ideology. At the core of this approach is the ability to listen.

Thanks to Zamir Shukho, Vibranium.VC!

#3- Networking skills

Photo Credit: Nick Allen

The ability to effectively network and communicate with other professionals is an invaluable skill you need to be a CEO. This is essential because having strong connections who can vouch for your skill and expertise will be crucial to landing fruitful business opportunities. Networking with other businesspeople and effectively communicating your goals will also help you build connections that can develop into healthy beneficial partnerships. To be a CEO, you must network effectively.

Thanks to Nick Allen, SportsLingo!

#4- Effective communication

Photo Credit: Anton Radchenko

CEOs must speak to their staff members in clear, understandable terms. Workers need to be aware of why a CEO makes particular decisions or how new policies will affect their regular tasks and responsibilities. Additionally, CEOs are accountable for upholding company culture and morale under their direction. Outstanding CEOs are affable and personable. Workers ought to feel free to talk to the CEO and share ideas. To make crucial choices on the direction of the firm and internal structure, CEOs must obtain input from employees.

Thanks to Anton Radchenko, Air Advisor!

#5- Vision, adaptability & resilience

Photo Credit: Quentin Coolen

Whether you’re a hands-on or hands-off CEO, one of the skills you must possess is the ability to set your company’s vision and stick to it. With a clear vision comes a sense of purpose for yourself, your team, and your investors. Now, setting a vision does not mean rigidity. On the contrary – there are always multiple paths for you to get where you want to go. Owning and leading a company takes all of your time and all of your mind space. No one can carry that burden without being resilient and not letting daily frustrations get in the way. But with the right mindset, anything is possible.

Thanks to Quentin Coolen, Waffle Insurance!

#6- Self-awareness

Photo Credit: Sumeer Kaur

A CEO’s most essential skill is to know what exactly their skills are, along with their strengths and weaknesses. In order to establish a team that has the capability to support your business, you need to hire the right people, and that begins with knowing what areas of improvement you need to be fulfilled. For example, you might be a CEO who is more numbers-oriented. Knowing how to build your team and understanding the puzzle that is your business is a CEO’s top essential skill.

Thanks to Sumeer Kaur, Lashkaraa!

#7- Collaborative leadership

Photo Credit: Michael Alexis

As a CEO, an essential skill I practice is collaborative leadership. It's important to have a strong vision and to be able to communicate it effectively, but also imperative to incorporate the opinions of peers and team members alike in order to reach success. At my company,, we strive for constructive working relationships based on mutual respect and understanding. When everyone is involved in the decision-making process, each person feels valued. We ensure that communication lines remain open at all times so that ideas can be shared without hesitation or fear of judgment.

Thanks to Michael Alexis, Swag!

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#8- Active listening

Photo Credit: Deborah Sweeney

Great CEOs listen. They pay attention to their team. As a CEO, you should encourage feedback and listen to the insights and ideas provided by your team. Accept this feedback and work on strategies with your team members that allow you to implement these initiatives within various departments of your company. Remember, as a CEO, to stay open to constant learning and improvement. This will allow you to find even more opportunities to improve leadership on a lifelong basis.

Thanks to Deborah Sweeney, MyCorporation!

#9- Transparency

Photo Credit: Marcus Arcabascio

A great entrepreneur has to have many qualities to lead the company. The most important one, in my opinion, is transparency. An entrepreneur has to be as clear as a mirror if he or she wants to touch lives and build an empire. Employees and shareholders do not like to remain in the dark about anything. They want to be involved in everything. Entrepreneurs need to share things with the team and make them aware of the current situation. This will make them better able to help the company because they will be aware of the gravity of the situation.

Thanks to Marcus Arcabascio, Pub Record!

#10- Innovative problem-solving skill

Photo Credit: Jamie Penney

If you want to become a successful CEO, you must possess an innovative ability to problem-solve. This is important because outstanding leadership is defined by the ability to withstand and overcome unforeseen challenges. For example, if you’re presented with the decision to lay off workers, you’ll find it in your interest to keep the ones that will help your company grow. A successful CEO always finds a way to improvise under such conditions. The ability to innovate can be reflected in one’s decision-making skills.

Thanks to Jamie Penney, Action Sporter!

#11- Balanced emotions

Photo Credit: Jonathan Tian

While handling sensitive issues related to business operations, balanced emotions are crucial. As CEO, I believe thought processing in neutral mode is essential to be successful. It overcomes biased behavior when working with vital discussions in business. This skill brings productive results and assists in transparent business administration. This approach enables us to flow through the issue and gives a good result. Improves connectivity and expands balanced relationships with customers, employees, and investors.

Thanks to Jonathan Tian, CreditYelp!

#13- Flexibility and adaptability

Photo Credit: Dakota McDaniels

You must be flexible and able to adapt to be a CEO. Flexibility and adaptability allow you to break into an industry with a refined business plan and clear methods to sustain success. Individuals with these skills are able to work in many working conditions and are comfortable working and excelling under pressure. They are able to consistently create winning solutions to further advance their goals. In addition, to be a CEO you must be flexible and adaptable to recruit the talent best suited for your business, adjust strategies for growth accordingly, and communicate with varying personalities.

Thanks to Dakota McDaniels, Pluto!

#14- Financial vigilance

Photo Credit: Daniel Chabert

An essential skill for any CEO is to know your financials daily. Every day you should know what the financial indicators are, the margins, and the profitability of your business. CEOs need this in order to stay on top of their business, understand its health, and make decisions accordingly. If you don’t have a handle on your finances, you won’t be able to make informed decisions. Additionally, it’s important to know the overall market and current trends and have an eye for the future.

Thanks to Daniel Chabert, PurpleFire!

#15- Forward planning

Photo Credit: Sharon Dylan

A successful CEO should have the ability to plan ahead, at least two steps ahead of anyone. The ability to foresee the trends that customers are leading towards can make the business take on this direction early on, hence, will pioneer the trend. This can then make the company profit from this trend early on while other competitors are still catching up. Aside from trends, a manager who can catch the minute details and foresee any upcoming problems and issues will be able to provide solutions swiftly, leading to solving the problem way before it causes a mess in the company.

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Thanks to Sharon Dylan, Management Library!

#16- Prioritization mastery

Photo Credit: Sharon Sanders

A CEO needs to know how to prioritize. When managing a business or groups of businesses, there are many tasks that need attention. However, a successful CEO knows how to prioritize and delegate tasks. Not everything is done by the CEO. A successful one knows what tasks need to be let go so other managers and employees can do them and what tasks need his full attention. Hence, this is a skill that is important for a CEO.

Thanks to Sharon Sanders, Philadelphia Weekly!

#17- Resilient leadership

Photo Credit: Randi Levin

In order to successfully go the distance as a CEO, you need to be resilient and be able to ride out the ups and downs of leading an organization. Tenacity is the willingness to face success and failure with equal energy. Flexibility is an innate part of this and mixed with clarity of purpose, the trust allows you to manage in real time because you understand that you can. Leaning into the process of being a business leader separates you from repeating what worked before in favor of what is the best solution now.

Thanks to Randi Levin, Randi Levin Coaching!

#18- Embracing growth

Photo Credit: Hayato Kato

A successful CEO must have a growth mindset. Irrespective of your expertise and knowledge, there is never an end to learning and building new skills. When you have a growth mindset, you are open to learning new things and grabbing new opportunities that come your way. It also helps to facilitate change which is essential for a rising business. With a growth mindset, not only do you grow in your personal and professional life, but you also encourage your employees, to learn new things.

Thanks to Hayato Kato, Tech I.S.!

#19- Strong strategic thinking

Photo Credit: Mark Voronov

In my experience, the essential skills needed to be a successful CEO include strong strategic thinking, excellent communication, and the ability to both lead and motivate a team. Additionally, having strong business acumen, the capacity to think on your feet and the ability to make tough decisions in the face of adversity are all key skills for a CEO. Finally, having a broad knowledge of the industry and a passion for innovation and
growth are also essential skills for a successful CEO.

Thanks to Mark Voronov, SocialPlug!

#20- Quality first

Photo Credit: Marc Werner

Entrepreneurs who aspire to be successful CEOs must understand that profits are a by-product of quality, not just margin. That’s what my grandfather taught me in our 100-year-old family business. If you focus solely on maximizing margins and caving into this new norm of “shrink-inflation” for short-term gains, you're not thinking about the long-term reputation of the business. Prioritizing quality can build customer loyalty, create a strong brand identity, and ultimately lead to sustained profitability.

Thanks to Marc Werner, GhostBed!

#21- Empathy in leadership

Photo Credit: Cynthia Davies

Empathy is an essential skill for CEOs because it allows them to better understand their employees, customers, and stakeholders. Leaders who can empathize with their employees can create a more positive and supportive work environment, leading to better morale and job satisfaction. When CEOs can connect with their customers on an emotional level, they can better understand their needs and pain points, leading to more effective product development and marketing strategies. Empathy also helps leaders to build better relationships with stakeholders, leading to more successful partnerships.

Thanks to Cynthia Davies, Cindy’s New Mexico LLC!

#22- Passion for people

Photo Credit: Rene Delgado

A CEO's passion is one of the most important qualities they can have. Obviously, they need to have a strong interest in the success of their business. But more than enthusiasm for their work, they need enthusiasm for the people they're serving. All of their clients and suppliers fall into this category. It's human nature for leaders to want to compartmentalize their teams from the services or goods they provide. The success of your business depends on maintaining a balance between the people who help your product advance in the market and the customers who benefit from it.

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Thanks to Rene Delgado, Shop Indoor Golf!

#23- Patience and learning

Photo Credit: Alan Perkins

When leading a company, CEOs must exercise extreme patience. The CEO needs to maintain composure. In the event of chaos, the CEO is tasked with finding a location that can redirect the attendees' attention and energy. Understanding how to gain insight from failures in the past in order to prevent similar blunders in the future is the next critical competency. If you've made a mistake, don't hide from it; instead, own up to it and teach others so they can avoid the pitfalls you had to overcome.

Thanks to Alan Perkins,  RadialZone!

#24- Visionary attitude

Photo Credit: Charette Vauchan

According to my own experience, becoming a CEO requires flexibility and a visionary attitude. When managing the company, you'll have to contend with problems, including shifting market trends, labor priorities, and revenue goals. Thus, you must find fresh possibilities as soon as possible that you can use to overcome these difficulties and ultimately adjust to what will probably happen in the future. Also, you must be aware of the potential for your business strategy to become ineffective and be prepared with backup plans if it does.

Thanks to Charette Vauchan, Clairvoyance!

#25- Adaptive decision-making

Photo Credit: Gauri Manglik

For me, the most essential skill you need to be a CEO is the ability to make decisions without full information. I've seen too many CEOs try to make decisions based on every possible variable, but that's not how business works. You have to make decisions in real-time with imperfect information, and then adjust as you go. You have to learn how to trust your gut and know that if something doesn't work out, it's okay—you'll figure out why later. And then you can use that knowledge to make better decisions next time.

Thanks to Gauri Manglik, Instrumentl!

#26- Talent sensing

Photo Credit: Michael Podolsky

The essential skill that a CEO needs is to sense people and find the right talents to join the team and do the job. When you move from entrepreneurship to stability, you need to perceive that moment and be willing and ready to restructure your team. But by restructuring, it's not necessarily changing. It's adapting and changing the culture of the company. A CEO should have that sense of growing a team and be able to move the company into stability later on.

Thanks to Michael Podolsky, PissedConsumer!

#27- Forward thinking

Photo Credit: Dr. Roshan Vara

Always being able to see past your goals is something that a CEO must possess. If you just stop trying to achieve any more goals after you have already done so, you are not allowing yourself to reach your full potential. I know from personal experience that having a business you can be proud of is very important, which is why I am always striving to find new and innovative ways to help my clients. Even after I accomplish a major achievement, I am already looking at how to improve upon it.

Thanks to Dr. Roshan Vara, The Treatment Rooms!

#28- Time management

Photo Credit: Pete Chatfield

The skills necessary to be a successful chief executive officer, in my opinion, include taking into account the value of your time. Time is the most precious and limited commodity you have. Time is money, as the old adage goes. It's not just the present moment that goes to waste when you engage in pointless activities that contribute nothing to your company's success. The time wasted on mindless activities like social media browsing and busy work has a greater opportunity cost than you might think.

Thanks to Pete Chatfield, Household Money Saving!

#29- Welcomes new perspectives

Photo Credit: Steve Rose

A successful CEO is one who is adept at delegating responsibility. If they do this, they'll have more time to focus on important matters and be better able to foster their colleagues' professional development. Thoughtfulness on the part of leaders is crucial for effective delegation. It is unreasonable to assume that those delegates work to will execute it as meticulously as one would. Eventually, there will be a discrepancy in labor. Thus, it's prudent to welcome new perspectives.

Thanks to Steve Rose, Money Transfers!

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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