In order to answer what the most important CEO competencies are, you, the reader, needs to understand where I am coming from. Firstly, I spent many years being that person who dreams up an idea, raises capital and takes that idea to market. Interspersed with all these bright ideas I had the privilege of being the consigliore for other CEOs in the manifestation of their bright ideas. Now, in my current role of CEO Mentor, Confidante and Strategic Improviser, I feel confident in answering this question.
The 8 most important CEO competencies are:
- Self-awareness – An understanding of their reason for being – call it their purpose, their cause or their why. This is the way to align with the cause of your company, attract the right talent, make appropriate decisions and maintain customer loyalty.
- Communication skills – An ability to communicate the company’s cause to others and share the vision. This is not a one time event – it is a commitment to reinforce the message over and over and to LIVE the message, not just have a framed vision/mission on the wall.
- Optimism – An indefatigable ability to control their attitude and be realistically optimistic. With one eye on the horizon scanning for new trends, the CEO must choose to be proactive rather than reactive and that begins with a conscious control of one’s own thinking.
- Provocativeness –Rather than being conflict averse, consider that dissension is to conflict as assertiveness is to aggression. We all appreciate assertiveness while being less appreciative of aggression. The ability to encourage dissension among their key players will lead to better outcomes.
- Flexibility – the ability to respond quickly to changing conditions. Digging in and being slow to make changes can result in stagnation if not the demise of a company.
- Strategic thinking – asking the right questions as well as fresh questions will encourage strategic thinking and working on the right initiatives.
- Problem solving – the ability to analyze issues and deal with “hot potatoes” while under pressure. It is also important to have a model for making decisions.
- Momentum consciousness – the ability to sustain the momentum and have an eye on priorities. Being constantly aware of keeping the peanut moving forward and asking every day “what are the most important thing to accomplish today.”
Knowing one’s limitations and surrounding oneself with the right people who believe in the same things and share values will support most of the above CEO competencies. It is crucial for any CEO to shape their own future, take decisive action and maintain their momentum to build sustainable companies.