Whether you are a new executive, or are involved in the hiring or promotion of an executive, you’re faced with big challenges. The inauguration of a CEO or other top-level executive is always fraught with anticipation and perhaps skepticism. Whatever the industry, executives are expected to achieve and maintain dazzling results. Additionally, factors like regulations, marketplace evolution, and globalization demand more from today’s executive than ever.
It’s enough to make you wonder how anyone can satisfy all the assumptions placed on the CEO. A three-letter executive must possess an impressive repertoire of leadership skills. Moreover, they must be informed and have insight to understand how to act based on the corporate environment, economic conditions, and changes in the customer base. Here are 5 leadership skill sets every new executive must own.
1. Tactical and Strategic Thinking Skills
Without critical and strategic thinking skills, how can a CEO understand market conditions and address them most effectively? And at the same time, the high-level executive must be prepared to make decisions quickly, sometimes without as much information as they would like. Executive leaders must know how to direct the team, what to delegate, and how to communicate effectively up and down the chain of command. An impressive level of industry-specific knowledge is also expected.
New and seasoned executives work with executive coaches to help with these very skills. Because executive coaching is more one-on-one than the relationship with a consultant, coaches help executives improve defined skills through a process that may involve discussion, role-play, deconstruction of situations, and plain old practice.
2. The Ability to Act with Integrity
Executive coaches cannot turn a dishonest person into an honest person. But eventually, most dishonest executives find themselves unemployed. Outstanding business skills are necessary, but insufficient for effective leadership. Equally as important is character. The executive who expresses certain beliefs, but then acts in ways that contradict them lacks integrity. Integrity is the positive quality of being what one claims to be.
Unfortunately, sometimes executive integrity has been surpassed in perceived importance by shareholder demands, but inevitably when the CEO lacks integrity, cracks form in the very foundation of the business. Problems may not show up right away, but they eventually will. The executive coach helps the CEO learn how to maintain integrity in the face of challenges.
3. Maintenance of Strong Character
Excellent character doesn’t develop overnight, and while the executive coach helps the leader understand what character means and how it is manifested, the coach is more concerned with bringing the executives decisions and skills into line with core beliefs. Extensive knowledge, demonstrable skills, strong character, and outstanding decision-making are expected of today’s CEO, so it’s no mystery why so few people are cut out for it.
The high-level executive cannot assume that the skills, decisions, and contacts that got them to the executive floor are sufficient for succeeding thereafter. Skills development is expected of everyone, including executives. But top executives may have nobody to whom they directly report, so often a deliberate effort must be made to further develop skills, either through leadership training, or executive coaching.
4. Ability to Get Results
There are still plenty of CEOs with “star quality,” but that is no longer considered enough for success. All the charisma in the world ultimately won’t matter if the CEO doesn’t get positive results. Relevant technical and industry skills are table stakes. Soft skills like the ability to get along with others are expected of the CEO as well. Simply having someone with widespread name recognition at the top of the organizational chart isn’t enough to guarantee success in a global economy that moves at a lightning-fast pace.
5. Encouragement of Team Member Advancement
Top-level executives are not expected to be aloof or removed from the teams they lead, but are expected to be invested in those teams. Allowing for and encouraging opportunities for growth among team members is a strong positive quality in a leader, because the true leader knows that when the individuals who make up the team fulfill their potential, it generates the metaphorical rising tide that lifts all the boats.
The leader who has the necessary skills and personal characteristics has the opportunity to achieve amazing results. Unfortunately, there’s no training camp for CEOs where people can learn exactly what to do to succeed. That responsibility rests on the executive and their organization. I have written extensively about leadership development, and I encourage you to check out my books. They’re not just for executives, but for anyone at any level who is determined to fulfill their potential.