As their businesses grow, many entrepreneurs have trouble adapting to their changing roles. Evolving from hands-on founder to visionary CEO is a huge leap, and there are few books, coaches or other resources to help even the most successful entrepreneurs manage that transition.
What exactly does a CEO do? Dr. Linda Henman is a corporate consultant in St. Louis with 30 years’ experience helping the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies such as Boeing, Kraft Foods and Emerson Electric. She says chief executives have three major responsibilities: “Develop the business, grow talent, and make decisions that drive innovation.”
Author of Landing in the Executive Chair: How to Excel in the Hot Seat, Henman says the best corporate leaders “create companies where customers want to do business, and people can do their best work.”
In a recent release, Henman offered these top qualities of a good CEO:
• Strategy – Strong strategic thinking defines the effective CEO. These leaders understand how to match a strong strategy with the tactics and talent to see it through. CEOS who constantly react to events, instead of planning for the future, remain followers and not leaders.
• Decisions – When CEOs consistently make good decisions, little else matters, says Henman. When they make bad decisions, nothing else matters. Even though decisiveness distinguishes leaders from everyone else, effective decision-making is crucial. A decisive CEO who can’t hit the target is the same as an indecisive CEO who doesn’t even know where to find it.
• Hiring – Successful CEOs know how to tie talent to their strategies to ensure the company hires the best and the brightest, and compensates them fairly. Then they give these people a chance to thrive.
• Results Orientation – The best CEOs hire people who are self-motivated, they define clear objectives, and then they hold people accountable for results. Not everyone can make this daunting transition – but it’s the best way to make sure that you extend your own drive and thirst for success throughout your company.
“It all comes down to leadership, as opposed to management,” says Henman. “Leading requires the ability to take people to places they wouldn’t have gone if you hadn’t been in the picture. Leaders who possess this ability offer golden opportunities for their organizations and the people who work in them.”