Do you want to be The CEO Next Door?

CEOs are frequently depicted as highly educated individuals who dress in snazzy suits and have a natural aptitude for business. However, many of them do not have a college diploma and do not come from an affluent family. In truth, corporate success is frequently unrelated to financial acumen or a sizable bankroll.

Elena L. Botelho, Kim R. Powell, and Tahl Raz, authors of the book The CEO Next Door, conducted several thorough investigations to determine what is genuinely required to become a great business leader. These are talents that everyone can learn, and the processes for gaining and putting them into practice are detailed in these blinks. You’ll see that there’s nothing stopping you from becoming the next Elon Musk or Indra Nooyi, as evidenced by instances of famous CEOs from a variety of industries.

Many of us assume that CEOs are unique and stand out from the rest of the workforce. In addition, we feel that having wealthy parents or having extraordinary intelligence is required to run a huge corporation. However, the authors were involved in the ghSMART project, which questioned over 2,600 CEOs and uncovered evidence that challenges these notions.

The vast majority of CEOs are ordinary people who have acquired leadership skills throughout the course of their careers. More than 70% of the CEOs polled stated that when they initially started working, they had no goal of becoming a CEO.

Furthermore, the survey revealed that becoming a CEO does not necessitate being a genius. Those who present intricate concepts or utilize many phrases are frequently seen as poor CEOs. Furthermore, they have a lower chance of being employed at all. To offer you some numbers, only 7% of CEOs have attended an Ivy League school. While Fortune 500 companies are more likely to have Ivy League graduates among their top executives, smaller, lesser-known businesses are not. But, putting Ivy League colleges aside, consider this: 8% of CEOs have never attended college, demonstrating that a lack of a formal higher-level education is certainly not a barrier.

To be a CEO, you don’t have to be a particularly loud individual. Because they are overly focused on their own success, egoistic persons make the poorest CEOs. In fact, 30% of CEOs identify as introverts.

We’ve already established that a college diploma isn’t required to become the CEO of a successful business. Being extremely brilliant, on the other hand, is not a need. In reality, CEOs with a high IQ frequently suffer from information paralysis. Every day, they are forced to make critical decisions. There are many different ways to make a decision, including being thoughtful, spontaneous, rational, or decisive. Decisiveness, or the capacity to make rapid and firm decisions, is a popular choice among high-performing CEOs. Indeed, according to the authors, decisiveness made CEOs 12 times more likely to be top performers in a research.

In addition to being quick, an overarching decision is usually better than one that’s detailed. To illustrate this argument, let’s take a look at Steve Gorman, who took over the bus company Greyhound Lines in 2003 when it was $140 million in debt. After being advised to either divide up the regions and sell off the company’s business in them, or to increase fare prices, Gorman had to decide quickly. Instead of consulting sales figures, he looked at a map of America. Gorman compared this map with the Greyhound route map and made the bold decision to stop all of the routes that serviced low-density populations. Thanks to this decisiveness, after four years, Greyhound Lines was making an annual profit of $30 million.

So, like Gorman, figure out a winning formula for your company and stick to it. Doug Peterson, CEO of McGraw Hill Financial, used this approach. He was successful by adopting the policies of Jack Welch, the famed CEO of General Electric. Welch’s criteria was that every new industry the company entered had to have the potential to become the number one or number two player, or he would pass it up.

By using this technique, Peterson was able to streamline decision-making across his whole firm and empower his employees to make better decisions regarding market opportunities on their own. Although the company rejected down some potentially significant takeover offers, the simplicity and quickness were worth more than any single buyout.

As previously stated, an unusually high percentage of CEOs are introverts rather than extroverts. This is because, in order to be a successful CEO, you must be able to consider the viewpoints of others. Customers, board members, and stakeholders all need to know what inspires them, which requires CEOs to listen and empathize. Introverts are particularly skilled at this.

You avoid forming assumptions by actually listening to others, which is crucial. You shouldn’t presume you know what other people believe when it comes to their thoughts and outlooks. Instead, show genuine interest in what they’re saying and pay attention while they’re talking about themselves.

Neil Fiske, for example, is a CEO who excels at this strategy. Though he is best known for rescuing the surf firm Billabong, he achieved his greatest success when working for a lingerie company. Fiske asked women about their thoughts on clothing while being careful not to make any assumptions. Fiske was able to turn a modest company into a billion-dollar company by listening and gathering as much information as he could.

As the example shows, it is critical for CEOs to spend time learning about their customers. Jim Donald has worked with a number of well-known and successful companies, including Starbucks and Safeway. He credits his success to the fact that he spends half of his time outside of the office, in the shops. Donald’s strategy was based on advice from his old Walmart employer, Sam Walton, who claimed that the actual business happens on the shop floor among customers and employees.

Similarly, understanding the motivations of the company’s board members is critical. The importance of getting to know your board members cannot be overstated, and you should be aware of their particular goals and aspirations, as well as how your company fits into that vision. The following are some crucial questions to consider: How did they become a member of the board of directors? Are they bound to a founder or investor? What motivates them to remain on the board? Is it for the money, the status, or the intellectual stimulation? Knowing the answers to these questions can help you reach your company’s objectives because you’ll know what decisions board members are likely to support.

If two applicants are fighting for the position of CEO, the one who appears to be the most trustworthy will be hired. In fact, CEOs with a reputation for dependability are twice as likely to be awarded a role as those who do not.

You must constantly keep your promises if you want to promote yourself as a trustworthy person. The Genome Project examined the personality qualities of thousands of CEOs and discovered that 94 percent of them scored extremely well in the category of keeping promises. Furthermore, individuals who demonstrated discipline, thoroughness, and conscientiousness were highly favored, as opposed to the “crazy geniuses,” who were regarded with suspicion due to their chaotic behavior. So, if your main selling point for gaining the job is that you can come up with wacky schemes and ideas, you might want to reconsider.

Members of the board want leaders they can trust to keep promises, even if they aren’t lavish. They would rather have a predictable modest consequence than a far-fetched promise that is unlikely to be fulfilled. As a result, you can establish a reputation for dependability by making little promises and following through on them.

Consistent behavior might also help you appear trustworthy. You must not be affected by mood swings or emotions in order to do this. Jeff Schwartz, the CEO of Timberland, claims that your employees rely on you to be consistent so that they may approach you professionally. If your moods are predictable, whether you’re always serious or always nice, you’ll appear more approachable to your coworkers and employees.

Preparing anecdotes about your previous experiences will also help you pitch yourself as a trustworthy CEO. When you’re interviewing for a leadership role, you can show that you’re a trustworthy candidate by sharing a few experiences from your background. Consider earlier instances in which you and your partner have overcome a common challenge, emphasizing how you’ve grown from the experience and redeemed yourselves. This will make you appear as someone who can be counted on to solve common difficulties if they happen in the future.

Check out my related post: What makes a great CEO?

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