4 Commonalities of Great CEOs

Written by Briana Cavanaugh

October 27, 2014

This last week I went to a conference for those strong of heart and good at math: Intuit’s QuickBooks Connect. It was the first ever of it’s kind!

I’m not a huge fan of accountants. They are often more conservative than I like and slow to change and integrate technology which makes the industry a giant lumbering thing akin to Gulliver entering Lilliput. (You know, in Gulliver’s Travels – I do love me some fairy tales!)

Anyway, it bugs me to watch as tech often seems to pass the industry by. Well, I was taken quite by surprise this week. Tons of tech, some great apps, awesome people and lots of innovation that my clients will be hearing about as they need it over the next weeks and months.

But I won’t bore you with details. Instead I have something that I thought you could use. The 4 thing the extraordinarily successful CEOs have in common.

First, why you care: you, if you’re running a small biz, you’e a practitioner of any sort that works independently, a soloprenuer, or you’re an “independent contractor” you are a CEO – you are the head of your organization, even if it’s an org of one.

In another post, I’ll go into more details of what a CEO really does and how you can take advantage of that mindset to make more money, but for now, know that you’re a CEO and that’s important. Here are some things that great CEOs have in common as told to me in a talk by Marc Adreesen.

It’s ok if you don’t know who he is you can find out more here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marc_Andreessen – he did things like found Netscape, is a venture capitalist and is in the World Wide Web Hall of Fame.

Ok, the four things that really successful CEOs have in common:

1. Good at Tactics and Strategy – they are good at both. Strategy is long term planing and being able see the big picture and tactics which is really details and implementation. You can go big and dive into the devils where you the details are. In practical terms that means you can work with the big players as well as do the every day stuff. You can hold both.

Lots of entrepreneurs tell me they are really dreamers and visionaries and that’s great! But it doesn’t make a great CEO. It makes a creative person, a great graphic designer, a fabulous healer and shaman and a lovely interior designer. And we need that. But that’s not a CEO.

2. Excited to Fix Problems – When something goes wrong, the first thing a great CEO does is want to fix it. I find personally that when something goes awry and I dig into it and enhance my skills and train my people, I learn stuff and it makes me better at what I do and makes my company stronger. And I love it. (I’m not always thrilled to eat crow if I mess up, but fixing stuff means I get to play and learn and I do love that!)

3. Very honest with employees – When I heard this one I felt really good. Great CEOs are very honest with their people. It’s a thing that makes people loyal to you, makes them trust you and be willing to stay with you when things go wrong.

4. Know when to change the plan, when to stay the course. This one is all about making the most important calls in your business. Sometimes you’ve got to stay the course and really see something to the end and sometimes you know in your hear that you’ve got to make a change and make it now. Being able to tune in and listen to all the information, all the bells and whistles and signs and advice and still have it come down to you and your instincts and your calls and make that one big decision today, that’s what makes a CEO great.

CEOs really earn their money by making these hard calls. And the truth is, even if you’re a one person outfit, you do too. You have to make the calls about the clients you take, how many and when. How much advertising and marketing and networking to do and when to call it a day and go home and get rest.

The truth is in your business is all comes down to you. Every day.

I’d love to hear from you. Do you feel like a great CEO? What skill could you develop today that would help you be a better CEO?


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