Tips For Aspiring CEO’s

The CEO job is not just another senior leadership role, it is fundamentally different. The job requires interaction with, and consideration of, a greatly expanded range of stakeholders, compared to most other leadership positions. This list generally includes customers, employees, shareholders, investors, suppliers and distributors and can often include unions, regulatory agencies, activists, the media and other entities.   

There is no single, guaranteed path to becoming a Chief Executive Officer, particularly for a large organisation. An impressive track record is not enough. A CEO requires strong leadership skills, analytical and critical thinking skills, mental resilience, business savviness, and needs to be ready personally, emotionally and psychologically to be effective in the role.

If your ambition is to become a CEO, there are several key areas that you should focus on to prepare you for the role:-

  • P&L Experience. An obvious pre-requisite for the position of CEO is prior experience in being responsible for profit and loss of a business unit. Seeking out such experience should be a career priority.
  • Functional Flexibility. A CEO is responsible for multiple functional areas, so experience in more than one area improves a candidate’s standing in the selection process. Sales, operational and/or finance experience are often highly regarded in this respect.
  • Personal Readiness. A range of skills and traits, are required in top leadership, many of which are not evident on a resume. Both IQ and EQ are key traits sought after in filling a CEO job as is the ability to think strategically and to be open to new ideas.
  • Objectively Assess Your Strengths and Weaknesses. Honestly assess your weak spots, identify the skills you need to master and seek out challenges or roles that will assist you to fill these gaps. Don’t waste time by doing more of the same. Staying in your current role longer isn’t the key to readiness, nor is round after round of career moves that build on what you already do well.  
  • Interpersonal Skills. The ability to work with others is a key requirement for the CEO position. Boards want CEO’s who can build consensus, mentor others, inspire confidence and won’t drive away talented executives. Aspiring CEO’s should focus on developing skills to deal effectively with a wide range of people. These skills can be built on by improving working relationships with those that you deal with in the workplace, such as your current boss, direct reports, work colleagues, suppliers and customers and with others inside and outside of the industry.
  • Education is a significant element for those learning to be a CEO. Continuing your education shows you have a growth mindset. A person with this mentality constantly wants to develop themselves and will become a better leader. Formal education such as a business degree or an MBA are common means, but not the only means of self-education. Many successful business leaders are self-taught by being insatiable readers, others have sought out mentors from which to learn. Every challenge encountered is a potential learning opportunity and some aspirants educate themselves by constantly seeking new challenges.
  •  Communication Skills. Everyone knows that being a good communicator is vital in a leadership role, but doing it well is something else. A good communicator knows his or her audience and how to appeal to each one. Communication training is available in many business degrees and in various other courses.  Participation in organisations such as Toastmasters can be a valuable source if training.
  • Team Building. Great things in business are never done by one person, they’re done by a team of people. Ironically, we spend our entire school career being judged almost exclusively on our individual work abilities and then spend much of a career in leadership being judged almost exclusively on our team building capabilities. If you lead a team, focus on identifying people’s potential and growing their skills over time.

The Chief Executive Officer is responsible for maximising a company’s value and/or success. An array of top-tier leadership skills are required in order to succeed. If this is your goal then be prepared to embark on a long process of learning and personal growth, and your journey will likely be both satisfying and fruitful.     

With ex-CEOs and senior managers in the team, Agricultural Appointments understands what’s needed to recruit senior management roles. Contact us on 02 9223 9944 or resume@agri.com.au today.

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Belinda Chung - Agribusiness Recruiting - Agricultural Appointments

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