Becoming a CEO is one of the most challenging things you can do in your career. It’s also one of the most rewarding. Becoming a CEO is not about your job title and position. It’s about your actions-what you do and how you do it. Being a CEO means that you have the trust of your board and leadership team. It means that you have earned the right to be a leader.
When you become CEO of a new organisation, you’re immediately thrust into the spotlight. Everyone will be watching your every move to see how you handle yourself. You need to exude confidence, command respect, and be able to make decisions on the fly. That said, many CEOs are not prepared for the responsibility of leading an entire company. Often, they must learn as they go.
This blog post will help you get a head start on your new role.
Prepare for the job
As the new CEO, you’ll have to take on duties that you’re not ready to do, you’ll have to make decisions that you’re not prepared to make, and you’ll have to learn new information that you’re not ready to learn. You’re going to get a lot of advice from many people. Take advice from trusted sources and mentors, but it’s also important to find your own way and create your own vision and mission.
The most important thing to do from the start is to listen. As a CEO or a company leader, you can’t sit in your office and not talk to people. You have to listen, ask questions, and understand what’s going on at the ground level of your company.
Focus on your company, not on yourself. You can’t do an excellent job if you’re worried about yourself. The best preparation is to have a good team around you. This team includes other executives from the company but also people outside the company. If you are taking over as CEO for a company that has never had a CEO or a company looking for a significant transformation, look for outside input.
Consulting firms that specialise in rapid transformation (e.g., through Agile methods) and CEO preparation can be a valuable investment. Such consultancies can provide ongoing coaching and guidance, which is essential. They have developed and honed approaches over long periods and have gained expertise that can take years to acquire. Leverage that knowledge to your benefit.
As a CEO, you will be the person at the top. While it is very gratifying, it can also be a lonely position. Build a robust support system, both in your personal and professional life.
Position yourself as a leader
You want to establish yourself as a leader right away and as the person who will take the company to the next level. You have to lead, motivate, and inspire other people to get on board with your vision.
Spend time meeting with your team and building rapport with them, especially when you’re taking over a company that has been around for a while. Remember that as the new CEO, you aren’t just the company leader. You are the face of the company, and you will be the voice of the company. You will need to be approachable and clear in your communication. You will need to be confident and consistent when making decisions.
Create a plan and share it enthusiastically with your leadership team and your employees. Be open to suggestions and change, but not at the expense of your vision.
Build your confidence in your verbal and written communications skills. If neither is your strong suit, get outside help. When you project confidence, others will be more willing to follow you.
Learn from previous CEOs and leaders
If you’re a new CEO, don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Learn from CEOs and leaders of other companies. If you are fortunate enough to know previous CEOs of your company, reach out to them. Do the same with longtime members of the board. You will find that they can teach you a lot about the company’s leadership history.
If you are dealing with a consultancy, ask them to put you in touch with CEOs who have been in your situation. You can learn from their mistakes and successes and use that knowledge to guide your decisions.
Learn from the leaders who preceded you, and try to find out what worked for them in the past. It’s OK to try new things and experiment, but make sure you’re doing it smartly.
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As the new CEO, be a leader that inspires trust.
Be the leader that doesn’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
Be the leader that is willing to ask for feedback and help.
Be a great leader.
But don’t try to do it alone.