In the corporate world, many employees grind their entire lives with the hopes of fulfilling the coveted role of chief executive officer, dreaming of life in that executive suite. In reality, any CEO position can range from exciting and rewarding to stressful and draining, and requires a specific set of skills. However, many people lack the mental prowess to succeed as a CEO and live up to their expectations of shareholders, customers, directors, and employees. 

Any aspiring executive will have to put in the work and cultivate certain qualities. Although CEOs in different industries respond to varying needs, the most extensive studies have shown that character traits like resilience, decisiveness, emotional intelligence, and reliability are the driving force behind the most competent CEOs.

1. Decisiveness

Outsiders often believe that CEOs are simply gifted with the ability to make the right decision at the right time, but this isn’t necessarily the case. It is simply impossible for anyone to make the best decision for a company at all times. Instead, successful CEOs prevail in the face of challenges because they are capable of making decisions quickly.

Of course, this doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Studies from the University of Michigan state that CEOs with the highest IQs struggle with decisiveness the most. These CEOs often suffer from “analysis paralysis,” which we define as focusing on the intellectual complexity of a task to the detriment of the entire team. While caution and prudence are certainly good business practices, they cease to be helpful when they become time-draining obstacles.

In times of trouble, an indecisive CEO could bring their business to a standstill. Influential leaders understand that, for a company to thrive, conviction and rapid decision-making are crucial. It is not enough for CEOs to drag their feet, making decisions only when they have exhausted every piece of information. This simply isn’t possible for every situation. “Successful CEOs must be able to make a decision even in the face of ambiguity and, if necessary, course-correct later down the road.”, says Nicolás Amarelle, CEO and founder of software development company CodigoDelSur. 

2. Emotional Intelligence

The ability to connect with stakeholders and employees emotionally — and leverage those emotions to create engagement — is an integral quality of high-performing CEOs. For one, a high level of emotional intelligence enables CEOs to understand the goals and motivations of stakeholders. From there, they can connect with employees to inspire exceptional performance that aligns with the company’s vision.

However, emotional intelligence does not mean that CEOs have to be perceived as friendly or likable. Instead, they make tough decisions and welcome conflict. “While it may seem counterintuitive, leadership through conflict enables employees and stakeholders to trust their CEO to implement plans that benefit the company, even if others disagree”, Amarelle points out. In addition, CEOs do not have to trust the opinion of everyone in the company. They can use their own judgment and discretion to set the course for their enterprise.

3. Resilience

The ability to remain resilient and adapt to an ever-changing environment is a crucial indicator of success in every aspect of life, and is especially critical to the effectiveness of CEOs. Research from the CEO Genome Project states that leaders who respond to change and failure proactively are 6.7 times more likely to succeed. Many CEOs begin to flounder when they are too focused on short-term results, but adaptable CEOs handle roadblocks as they come and divert the majority of their attention towards what will benefit them in the long term. 

Resilience also shows itself in the wake of errors. If failures occur, successful CEOs handle their shortcomings with honesty and grace. They are upfront about their mistakes and apply their newfound knowledge to create a better outcome in the future. In this way, they can maintain the respect of clients, stakeholders, and employees and continue to lead their team productively.

4. Reliability

If your goal is to run a company effectively, you must be capable of delivering results consistently. Reliability is arguably the most crucial factor in being a successful CEO. When the entire team depends on the CEO, following through on tasks is essential. In the eyes of investors and stakeholders, the quality of reliability increases the chance that they will receive a higher return on their investment.

Setting realistic goals is a significant part of what enables CEOs to be reliable in the first place. Reliable CEOs take their time understanding the structure of the company and the demands of the clients so that they can calculate their moves strategically. People who are capable of reliability have exceptional organizational skills. CEOs that are reliable establish systems that allow them to accurately track data and alter their course of action quickly if necessary.

Real World Example: the Strong Leadership at CodigoDelSur 

In many industries, the guidance of a strong CEO can make or break a company — and the technology sector is no exception. As technology permeates every aspect of our society, web design and app development markets have boomed, demanding agencies to present strong leadership or quickly founder.

The developers at CodigoDelSur have risen to the challenge with the support of their CEO and founder Nicolás Amarelle. Over the past 14 years, Amarelle has empowered CodigoDelSur through a period of incredible growth, leading a team of 120+ to design and build digital products for a portfolio of innovative companies. 

In the digital design and production industry, competition is fierce. Amarelle accredits CodigoDelSur’s phenomenal success to his emphasis on knowledge and creativity.

He encourages the developers to constantly learn about their ever-changing industry and draw inspiration from each client’s vision for their company. Most importantly, he believes that CEOs must hold themselves to this same standard, always striving to achieve a greater level of success and remain at the forefront of their industry.

“Be committed to your business, continue learning and adapting to changes, and never settle for the comfortable things,” says Amarelle. “Even when it seems that your company is doing awesome, it can always be more awesome, so don’t ever stop pushing.”

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