Elena Badea, Managing Director, Valoria Business Solutions
CEOs today face a multitude of challenges in navigating their organizations through an increasingly complex business environment. From economic uncertainty and geopolitical risks to changing consumer demands and the rise of disruptive technologies, CEOs need to possess a diverse range of skills and abilities to lead their organizations to success.
While the specific hard skills required can vary depending on the industry sector, there are certain soft skills that are universally essential for CEOs. Therefore, in this article, I want to lay out my view with respect to the 10 essential skills that CEOs need to have in order to lead their organizations to success.
1. Emotional intelligence
According to a study by Korn Ferry, emotional intelligence is the most important leadership trait for CEOs. In Romania, a survey conducted by the recruitment company Adecco found that 57% of Romanian employees believe that their managers lack emotional intelligence.
This highlights the importance of CEOs in Romania possessing strong emotional intelligence to manage relationships with their employees, stakeholders, and customers.
CEOs with higher consciousness quotient (CQ) are aware of their own thoughts, feelings, and actions. They are able to make decisions and act in a way that is aligned with their values and principles.
In Romania, a study by the recruitment online platform Hipo found that 47% of Romanian employees believe that their managers are not transparent and do not act with integrity.
Conscious CEOs (with CQ of 100-110) are able to take a holistic view of their organizations, considering not just the bottom line, but also the impact their decisions have on their employees, customers, and the broader community.
Effective decision-making skills can help CEOs avoid costly mistakes and make the most of new opportunities. In Romania, a survey by the PwC, a top global consulting company, found that 61% of Romanian CEOs believe that economic uncertainty is the biggest threat to their business.
CEOs need to be able to make effective decisions in a timely manner in order to navigate such challenges and position their organizations for success. They also need to have a clear vision for the future and the ability to inspire and lead their team towards achieving that vision.
4. Transformational leadership
According to a study by the consulting company McKinsey, transformational leadership is the most effective leadership style for CEOs. CEOs who possess this skill are able to create a vision for their organizations that inspires and engages their employees.
In Romania, a study by Deloitte found that only 37% of Romanian employees believe that their managers inspire and motivate them. CEOs who are able to lead transformational change can create a positive workplace culture and drive their organizations forward.
5. Growth mindset
CEOs with a growth mindset believe that peoples’ abilities and intelligence can be developed over time. This mindset can help CEOs stay adaptable and innovative in a constantly evolving business environment.
In Romania, a survey by the recruitment agency Manpower found that 73% of Romanian employers are experiencing talent shortages. CEOs with a growth mindset can help their organizations stay competitive by encouraging continuous learning and development.
By fostering a culture of continuous learning and improvement, these CEOs can empower their employees to reach their full potential and drive organizational success.
6. Assertive communication
CEOs need to be able to communicate effectively with a wide range of stakeholders, including employees, customers, investors, and the media. This requires the ability to convey complex ideas in a clear and concise manner, as well as the ability to listen actively and respond appropriately.
In Romania, a survey by the recruitment online platform BestJobs found that 40% of employees believe that their managers do not communicate effectively. CEOs who are able to communicate effectively can build strong relationships with their stakeholders and drive their organizations towards success.
7. Influencing as a role model
CEOs are not just top-level executives who manage companies, but they are also expected to be role models for their employees, customers, and the broader community. To succeed in their roles, CEOs must possess excellent influencing skills and be exemplary role models.
Therefore, CEOs who demonstrate integrity, ethics, and a strong commitment to their company's mission can inspire others to follow their example. This behavior will lead to a more engaged workforce, increased customer loyalty, and a positive impact on society.
In Romania, a study by the recruitment agency Hays found that 63% of Romanian employers are struggling to retain their top talent. CEOs who are effective influencers are able to build strong relationships with their stakeholders and create buy-in for their vision and strategy.
8. Strategic thinking
CEOs need to be able to think strategically, considering the long-term goals of the organization and the broader business environment. This requires the ability to analyze trends, identify opportunities and threats, and develop a plan that positions the organization for success.
According to a report by the Romanian Business Leaders Foundation, 84% of Romanian CEOs consider strategic thinking as the most important leadership competency. Furthermore, the report found that Romanian CEOs who prioritize strategic thinking are more likely to have a positive impact on their companies' performance.
In a survey conducted by McKinsey & Company, 65% of Romanian executives believed that strategic thinking was the most important capability for a CEO to possess. The same survey found that companies with a strong strategic focus delivered 35% higher returns on investment than those without.
9. Financial acumen
CEOs play a critical role in driving the financial success of their companies, and having a strong financial acumen is a key requirement for their success.
According to a study by PwC Romania, 93% of CEOs in Romania consider financial performance as the top priority for their companies. Additionally, the study found that 63% of CEOs believe that the ability to manage financial risks is essential for their companies' success.
A CEO's financial acumen includes the ability to analyze financial statements, identify potential financial risks and opportunities, make sound financial decisions, and effectively communicate financial information to stakeholders. Having a strong financial acumen enables CEOs to steer their companies towards long-term growth and profitability, which is essential for sustained success in today's competitive business environment.
CEOs need to be resilient in the face of challenges and setbacks. They need to be able to bounce back from failures and maintain a positive attitude in the face of adversity. CEOs who are resilient are able to inspire their employees to do the same, creating a culture of perseverance and determination.
According to a report by the Romanian Business Leaders Foundation, 75% of Romanian CEOs believe that resilience is a critical leadership competency. Furthermore, a survey by KPMG Romania found that 71% of Romanian executives believe that resilience is one of the top three leadership traits needed to succeed in today's business environment.
A CEO's resilience involves the ability to cope with uncertainty, handle setbacks, adapt to change, and maintain focus amidst distractions. The pandemic has further emphasized the importance of resilience, with CEOs having to navigate through unprecedented challenges.
CEOs who possess resilience can inspire confidence in their employees, shareholders, and stakeholders, which is crucial for a company's success. As such, CEOs who cultivate their resilience can lead their companies through difficult times, emerge stronger, and better equipped to handle future challenges.
In today's uncertain and rapidly changing business environment, the role of a CEO has become more challenging than ever before. To succeed in their roles as top-level executives, CEOs must possess a combination of strategic thinking and people-oriented skills.
While strategic thinking enables CEOs to navigate through complex challenges and capitalize on new opportunities, people-oriented skills enable them to lead their employees, communicate effectively with stakeholders, and inspire confidence in their organization's vision.
CEOs who strike a balance between strategic thinking and people-oriented skills can create a workplace culture that values innovation, collaboration, and continuous improvement. By fostering a positive and inclusive work environment, these CEOs can drive their companies towards sustained success, even in the face of uncertainty.
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Valoria is a consulting, training, and executive coaching company. Through our services, we help entrepreneurs to grow their business and make success concrete and predictable. Companies turn to us for marketing, human resources and sales consulting. We often respond to requests for training or coaching of management teams. Competence, trust, innovation and passion are the values we uphold in everything we do. We build long-term partnerships and collaborations, because we offer guaranteed results and the best quality, at the right price. In 2022, the Daily Finance publication nominated Valoria in the Top 20 management consulting companies in Bucharest. Find out more at: www.valoria.ro