What it takes to become a CEO

If you long to create an impact and aspire to lead an organisation, consider what it takes to lead thousands of employees and be great at it.

It requires:

  • motivation and focus for a journey that will likely take decades. (In 2020, the average age of new CEOs and CFOs at the biggest U.S. companies was 54 and 48 years old, respectively.
  • skills that will distinguish you among your peers and enable you to lead at scale.
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@julia_yl

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Career

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Consider in which pathway your potential leadership impact lies.

  • The organisational architect. These leaders can build strong teams and organisational structures, systems, and processes that lead to exceptional results.
  • The relationship maven. These leaders focus on cultivating relationships and helping other people grow.
  • The passion player. These leaders focus on purpose - what they will accomplish and why.
  • They understand the fundamental reality that to build a real advantage is to create an engine for growth that will endure.
  • They can reimagine markets and attract exceptional talent.
  • They know how to assemble strong players across business functions and can give direction, resources, and freedom to deliver.

People who are naturally drawn to this instinctively rethink systems, processes, and reporting structures. They have a fixer mindset and can persuade and motivate others to exceed expectations.

  • These leaders have an infectious energy and compelling conversation about "why we do this" that draws people toward them.
  • They believe doing something significant is what matters, and they use that belief to gather and motivate others to their cause.
  • They are often deep experts in a specific area.
  • They often take risks.

These leaders start this pathway by identifying purpose-driven leaders, reading their books, watching their speeches and videos. They notice how they frame problems and tell stories.

Desiring the role of a CEO

Many young professionals and MBA students desire to become a CEO. What stands out is the mindset to want to lead.

Many aspirants want to have an impact. They desire to make a real and tangible difference in the world. They see business as a vehicle for impact, and the role of a CEO as a destination for creating change.

  • They are people persons.
  • They naturally form genuine relationships with a diverse group of executives, internally and externally.
  • People like them because they have an earnestness that causes trust and goodwill with customers, partners, and suppliers.
  • In time, these leaders naturally bring different people together to start deals and collaborations that get bigger over time.
  • They have a natural curiosity about people. They keep in touch with the people they find most interesting.

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RELATED IDEAS

Acknowledge the Previous Leader

It is easy to forget all about the past leader. But the past leader actually has a lot to teach you. 

Their shortcomings are things which you can improve on. And the good work they completed is something you will be measured on.

Therefore, take time out to ask your team what they liked and disliked about the past leader. Then, govern your leadership style from the information gathered. 

3

IDEAS

  • Consider what makes this decision so hard for you, then deal with it and learn from it.
  • Know the environment and influencing factors in which the decision is being made. Try to understand the urgency, circumstances, culture, and expectations of those involved. All of these will ultimately influence your decision.
  • You're not in this by yourself. Become familiar with the capabilities and resources available. Knowing other leaders to reach out to can make a big difference.
  • Understand the impact, both individually and organizationally. Putting yourself in the shoes of the affected party will better reveal the effect of a particular decision.
Gaslighting

Gaslighting is a covert type of behavior that is adept at undermining other people's self-esteem, confidence, and sense of reality.

Its toxicity flies under the radar due to its being subtle and sneaky in nature.

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