When narrowing down the qualities that make an ideal CEO, it can be difficult to know which characteristics to prioritize. Some qualities that come to mind may include good leadership, communication, and confidence. But, while these traits are important, are they the most essential traits for CEO success? Possibly not. New research from the Harvard Business Review suggests that although confidence makes a CEO twice as likely to get hired, it doesn’t seem to affect how well they perform in their leadership role. In fact, introverts are a little more likely to exceed the expectations of boards and investors.
In reality, effective CEOs tend to manage several critical duties at once, make quick decisions, and maintain trusting, respectful relationships with colleagues and employees. CEOs who achieve this kind of persona tend to demonstrate six certain characteristics, which Mahmoud Khattab, Elk Grove, California, explores here.
To have foresight is to think critically when planning for the future. This is essential for CEOs, who must prepare for the future of financial, investor, and business activities, often all at once and while steering the business in the right direction. CEOs can improve their foresight by thinking outside the box to find creative solutions that they otherwise may never have considered. They should also weigh up the pros and cons of each solution option, considering each scenario and how it could impact the organization’s long-term success.
“If you reach a plateau, that means you’re going to decline,” Mahmoud Khattab says. “You always have to think about new ideas and try different things.”
As industry trends evolve , CEOs need to adapt their businesses in line with these changing markets and the fast-paced digital revolution. When CEOs adapt to their circumstances, they can ensure the right buy-in from the right people at the right times. To become more adaptable, CEOs can focus on the positive aspects of any situation before the negatives. When CEOs view challenges as opportunities, they often pave the way for beneficial change in the company.
It’s also important to adapt to suit the needs of your colleagues and clients. As Mahmoud Khattab explains: “When you’re in a hospital, you must adapt yourself to work with hundreds of people. It’s impossible to find very good chemistry with all those people. So, you have to adapt yourself to work with doctors, employees, staff, CEO, administration, all of those people.”
Reliability is an important characteristic for anyone in the workplace. But when a CEO doesn’t deliver their promises, they risk losing the trust not only of the board of directors but also of their employees and customers. To be reliable, CEOs should demonstrate transparent, open communication. They should also prioritize and deliver on their commitments and think carefully about the promises they can offer before making these.
Some company leaders lock themselves in their watchtowers and make decisions from above. But smart CEOs know that they make the best decisions when they involve others. These CEOs consult others, from members of the C suite to lower-level employees. To do this well, CEOs should practice active listening, asking the right questions, asking for feedback, and effective delegation.
Mahmoud Khattab explains that recruiting good-fit team members is essential to enabling effective teamwork: “Over the years, I hired an office manager, and then I hired an executive director, and I also hired a patient coordinator and a marketing company. So, you have to learn that you can’t do everything yourself. You have to work with the right people. But also choosing the right people is difficult. You build experience in how to pick the right people over time.”
Relationship building is integral to the CEO’s role. They must build relationships with shareholders, investors, employees, and customers. By simply showing compassion toward these people, the CEO can build trusting relationships with each individual. To practice compassion, CEOs should prioritize the human factor. Rather than losing themselves in numbers and data, they can focus on the impact their decisions will have on people.
While it’s easy to believe that great CEOs know how to make the best decisions all the time, in reality, high-performing CEOs tend to stand out because they make decisions quickly and on an informed basis. Those who make decisions consistently and with conviction avoid ambiguity and follow through on their leadership direction, even when their decisions don’t work out as planned. It’s often better to make a wrong decision than no decision at all.
“You have to be a risk-taker,” Mahmoud Khattab says. “Of course, calculated risk, to some level, but you have to take that risk and accept it.”
Remember that the traits that make a successful CEO are much more than a list. There is no perfect blend of characteristics to make the perfect CEO. The industry and company culture play large roles in dictating which behaviors and skills are most important in a CEO in any given organization. Therefore, often, the best way to improve your leadership as a CEO is to seek feedback from your team.
About Mahmoud Khattab
As the CEO of Precision MD in Elk Grove, California, Mahmoud Khattab is used to leading a large team of professionals who specialize in hair transplants, Botox, facelifts, chemical peels, laser skin resurfacing, and breast implantation. Since graduating from the University of Damascus, Syria in 1993 and then completing a medical residency at Case Western Hospital in Ohio, Cleveland, he has spent three decades overseeing private practices in the United States.