Published - July 2007

By Dave Jakielo

What All CEO’s Must Know
Essential Steps to Success

Years ago we all had a Boss. The Boss was in charge because he or she had a title and we automatically acknowledged that authority because of the position. We may not have respected our bosses, but we feared them because they held our fates in their hands.

The Boss determined if we stayed employed or found ourselves “freed up” for other opportunities. The Boss also determined whether we would receive a raise, a promotion, or be stuck in the same old job for years on end.

Well times have changed. Good employees require more than just a person with a title to follow. They aren’t willing to grin and bear working with a Bad Boss. Today employees want to rally around a competent leader and will give 100 percent only if they feel the CEO is worthy of their respect.

That is why today more than ever, CEO’s must obtain and put into practice the skill sets that allow them to be effective leaders. Employees have more choices when it comes to whom they want to sell their services to. Leaders must earn respect, not just assume a title will automatically make employees become their followers.

So let’s examine some of the qualities that make a great CEO. The first is mentorship. A CEO is responsible for the development and success of all those who directly report to him or her. It’s not just what CEOs know that makes them valuable, it is their ability to teach others how to excel and grow. Good CEOs surround themselves with people who are brighter than they are. They are not afraid to allow their team to present a contrarian view.

The CEO is the catalyst for the development, implementation, and continual monitoring of a strategic plan. It amazes me how many leaders do not take the time to plan—who simply run their businesses in a reactive rather than a proactive mode. A non-planning leader will move from crisis to crisis, juggling one thing and another without a plan or roadmap. Stress levels will be maxed and the followers will think the CEO is confused.

A plan is an essential element to help a company grow and prosper. Keep in mind there are only two types of companies: those that are growing and those that are shrinking. It’s impossible to remain the same for any great length of time.

A CEO is the main influencer of the company’s culture. A large part of any company’s culture is the answer to the question, “How are the employees treated?”

Excellent people skills are paramount if a CEO’s is to be successful. Some of the key elements are as follows:

  • Delegate responsibility. A CEO must recognize that the job isn’t a one-person show. No CEO can do it all alone—she needs to achieve things through others. However, when the CEO does delegate responsibility, it is the job of the CEO to follow up with that person before he has a chance to fail. The person who misses a deadline is not at fault—the CEO is for not following up to ensure the person is on track to complete the task on time.
  • Maintain confidentiality. A CEO knows never to talk about a problem with a team member to another team member. That kind of talk makes all employees worry about what the CEO may be saying about them behind their backs. An important premise to always follow is, “Never talk about a problem with someone who can’t solve it.”
  • Bestow praise. A good CEO always praises team members when warranted. Praise needs to be specific, sincere, and timely. I remember reading once that Abraham Lincoln took all the blame when something went wrong, but when things went right, he praised the others who were involved.

It maybe true that one person can’t make or break a company, but the CEO comes the closest. The man in charge definitely has the potential to be the most influential. While it isn’t easy to motivate people to always give their best, it is very easy to de-motivate them. A good CEO would never do that.

Dave Jakielo, CHBME, is an international speaker, consultant, executive coach, and author and is president of Seminars & Consulting. Dave is past president of Healthcare Billing and Management Association and the National Speakers Association Pittsburgh Chapter. Sign up for his FREE weekly Success Tips at Dave can be reached via email; phone 412/921-0976.

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