As one of our more experienced CEOs said at a recent CEO Institute members' lunch, "There are absolutely no free lunches in being a first-time CEO. Novice CEOs have less time than ever to show results, with little to no on-the-job training."
For an aspiring CEO, getting input from current and former CEOs is invaluable. Here are nine of the top tips that our members have put forward:
- Understand why you want it
Being a CEO can be difficult, time-consuming and stressful. Be clear on the real reason you want to be in the C-suite. The right reasons are a passion around your business and a desire to serve shareholders, employees and customers. Ego, compensation and entitlement are the wrong reasons.
- Understand what you are getting yourself into
Ensure that you are ready to accept the reality of being 'on' 24/7 for 365 days in a year, from the day that you start until the day that you stop.
- Don't be an accidental leader
Be intentional about your leadership model. If you are not providing the leadership your organisation needs, people will seek it elsewhere, undermining your influence and credibility. You cannot afford for that to happen.
- Be self-aware
Know who you are and how you are seen - this is the foundation of success at any level, but particularly at the top. Self-awareness helps you make the right decisions.
- Be technologically savvy
In an era when technology trumps tradition, CEOs must develop skills that were unheard of in the past. CEOs must know as much about technology as they do about business.
- Be courageous
Be willing to put a stake in the ground and state the direction for the business. Have the courage to challenge the status quo.
- Be prepared to serve
In an increasingly narcissistic world, successful future CEOs will buck the trend and adopt a service mindset. Being a CEO is ultimately about service - to shareholders, employees and customers. A self-centred approach can quickly derail the CEO and even kill the company.
- Seek feedback
Honest feedback can be a difficult pill to swallow. For most people, asking for feedback is like going to the dentist: though few enjoy it, it's important to do. Successful CEOs go out of their way to learn the truth.
- Don't rush
The fast track has its downsides. No matter how smart and ambitious someone is, not taking the time to build skills like influence and emotional intelligence can often derail them before getting to the C-suite. Gain mastery and take the longer view.
What can you add to the list of 'top tips for aspiring CEOs'?
The CEO Institute was founded in 1992. It is now Australia's leading membership organisation for CEOs and senior executives. It provides a forum for over 1,000 Chief Executive members to connect and share their learning with each other. In 2011, The CEO Institute became the world’s first global certification body for CEOs, and in 2013, partnered with UNESCO in support of the "Malala Fund for Girls' Right to Education". In 2014, they began offering their programs globally.
The CEO Syndicate is an exclusive peer support network for CEOs. The first meeting of The CEO Syndicate program was held in Melbourne in June 1992. Offices were opened in Adelaide in 1996 and Sydney and Brisbane in 1997, with Perth launching in 2007. In 2015, the New Zealand office opened.
The Future CEO program is a certification course designed by the business leaders of today for the business leaders of tomorrow. The first Future CEO meeting was held in Melbourne in May 2012. In 2014, the "Future CEO Scholarship Fund for Women" was established, and continues to be offered today.
Membership of The CEO Institute is by invitation only. To register your interest click enquire.