The Six CEO Fundamentals

The perilous path an executive must travel to become the CEO and then to become a successful one depends upon what he or she is capable of being personally and professionally. Professional preparation to develop the capacity to lead a successful company can be attained in publications like The Wall Street Journal and The Financial Times; broadcasts such as CNN, Fox and Bloomberg; and through university programs such as the top-rated MBA at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. This blog doesn’t address the professional business knowledge a CEO must know. Rather, it will address the necessary personal capacities an executive must master  before accepting the role of CEO.

My suggestions in this blog stem from more than 30 years of researching, publishing, practicing, coaching and teaching in the field of leadership studies, as well as from my own experiences as an international coach and consultant in Leaders By Design, which I started in 1986. Based on these experiences, among others, I am able to confidently help executives determine if they are personally ready for the role of CEO.

That determination can be reached by testing the person’s contiguous mastery of at least six fundamentals from the field of leadership studies. They are:

• Balancing leadership and management practices through collaboration with others in an organization can create a learning effect with other executives, directors, managers and supervisors. Modeling the balance of leadership and management through collaboration among others is essential.

• Each executive must be able to recognize when his or her own ego has gone awry and is blocking leadership practices such as empathy.

• One must make decisions with full consideration of the intentionality of the action, adhering to principles of good conduct and ensuring the quest for fair and proper results. This fundamental has become so obvious to everyone given the financial crisis of 2008 and beckons for the practice of the first principles of business: fair play, competence and promise-keeping.

• Use both professional and personal skills in your authority as an executive leader.

• Executives, when leading teams, must be mindful of both task completion, as well as the progressive and positive relationships of team members.  This focus on task completion and positive relationships will help root out and eliminate anti-team behaviors.

• An executive leader must understand that there is a systems effect on individual performance. Knowing what motivates the person and how to design the work system surrounding the person are critical at all levels of leadership.

These six personal fundamentals for leadership are only the beginning of development for an executive who desires to be a CEO of course.

(Editor’s Note: Peter Dean is author of The Coachable Leader, which discusses these six fundamentals in greater detail and more.)

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