Want to be the most successful CEO in 2018? Follow these ESSENTIAL rules

February 28, 2018 1:44 pm

CEOs earn their title based on a merit system that builds upon a career of personal and company growth and achievements.

What are these strategies?

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No Degree No problem

The Harvard Business Review (HBR) assembled a data-set of more than 17,000 C-suite executive assessments and studied 2,600 in-depth to analyze who gets to the top and how.

“An Ivy-draped diploma doesn’t guarantee someone will be good at the job, but   we were surprised to uncover that 8% of CEOs in our sample did not complete college at all,” said HBR.

These 8% overcame the odds by excelling in three ways.

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1-Become a proven insider: 

You can establish bona fides by gaining deep industry-specific and firm-specific knowledge.

“89% of CEOs without college degrees “grew up” in the same industry where they served as CEO, and spent 40% more time in the industry where they became CEO compared to their peers with college degrees,” said HBR.

“Employers often feel safer hiring industry and company insiders which more than compensate for lack of formal education and CEOs without a degree also stayed on average 25% longer in roles than their college-graduating CEO peers, but typically took 15% longer for them to get to the CEO seat.

2-Become results driven:

CEOs who get to the top without a college degree let their outsized results speak for themselves.

“What sets successful CEOs apart is reliability, one of four CEO Genome behaviors that differentiates successful CEOs, and the only one that also doubles their chances of getting hired into the role,” said HBR.

Exceeding people’s expectations, growing the business faster and driving results to get things done gets you noticed.

“The majority (56%) of CEOs without college degrees in our survey came up through sales and marketing.”

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3- Be a talent magnet:

The CEOs without degrees that we analyzed were more likely than their peers to proactively surround themselves with strong talent and lean on the team to contribute expertise, said HBR.

“They were humble, and more open to soliciting ideas from all types of people, regardless of status or rank.”

It added: “In contrast, we were intrigued to uncover that the CEOs who saw “independence” as their defining character trait were twice as likely to underperform compared to other CEOs.”

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Rise and Shine

Forbes interviewed Cathy Engelbert, CEO of Deloitte, and one who oversees over 85,000 professionals that provide financial services to over 80% of the Fortune 500 companies.

Her three best pieces of advice for leaders starts by focusing heavily on the human element of work, by reading people, influencing people, and leading people.

“Second, focus on long term investments, like investments in emerging technology and platforms, but more important, retooling and reskilling the workforce,” she told Forbes.

“And the third piece of advice is, as a leader, one should consider focusing on getting some small things of symbolic value done to build trust, and then the harder things you want to get done become easier.”

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She revealed reports that show 65% of children entering school today will work in jobs or fields that don’t even exist yet.

“These new factors will push us to evolve the way companies work, the way they run, and how they engage with clients and customers,” she said.

On the biggest leadership challenge she faces, Engelbert said:” The exponential pace of change is one of the greatest challenges for CEOs of organizations, especially those facing major disruption.”

“It really comes down to companies needing to make choices on what investments to commit to with finite capital.”  

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5 Leadership Principles

Gordon Tredgold, Founder and CEO, Leadership Principles, has 5 key values that define a leader, at any level.

1-Be engaged

Around 70% of employees are either disengaged or actively disengaged, but interestingly, according to similar studies on management, the levels of engagement of leaders is at or around the exact same levels, said Tredgold.

“It’s impossible to engage people when you’re not engaged yourself, and if you’re not engaged then why should they be.”

2-Be nice

“It’s nice to be important, but it’s important to be nice, he said.

“People like to do business with people who they know like and trust, and being nice to people helps increase your likability rating.”

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3-Take an interest

Tredgold said that showing interest in your staff shows that you respect and value them.

“Too many bosses take no interest or even worse show a disdain for their staff, but this just increases their disengagement.”

4-Be yourself

“People can spot a phony from a mile away, and it just creates a feeling of distrust and a lack of trust kills your ability to lead, Tredgold said.

“Just be true to yourself, don’t try to put on airs and graces or pretend to be something you are not.”

5-Admit your mistakes

Tredgold advises leaders to admit mistakes when they happen and apologize if necessary.

“Admitting your mistakes shows humility, and a willingness to be vulnerable and your teams will appreciate that.”



Hadi Khatib
By Hadi Khatib
Hadi Khatib is a business editor with more than 15 years' experience delivering news and copy of relevance to a wide range of audiences. If newsworthy and actionable, you will find this editor interested in hearing about your sector developments and writing about it.