Diamonds are valued not only in terms of carats but for their cut, colour and clarity. To shine as brightly, CEOs are judged on their own three Cs of great leadership skills: caring, credibility and competence.
Successful CEOs don’t pay lip-service to an organisation’s mission and vision; they live it. They demonstrate a commitment to the company’s goals and, like Caesar’s wife, their behaviour has to be beyond reproach. Having different rules or standards loses the respect of employees, so it’s important to show you care. Don’t jump the queue at the canteen, hold the door for a junior struggling with an armful of files, and listen to what your employees are saying.
Whole-workforce forums are a great way to do that and show that every employee has a voice and will be listened to. Google bosses Larry Page and Sergey Brin still host weekly meetings for their vast staff that include a question-and-answer session anyone can take part in—and it’s that which makes employees feel valued.
It’s also important to reward those employees who go the extra mile. It demonstrates that you’re aware of the work they’re doing for you and the company. Be inventive when it comes to handing out perks. The CEO of InDemand Interpreting gives a “Box Lunch” to outstanding employees—but it doesn’t contain anything edible. Instead, he gives them the keys to his Porsche so they can drive themselves to an all-expenses-paid slap-up lunch. It’s an interesting way to demonstrate trust and show appreciation.
A good CEO tells the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. If the CEO isn’t credible, then the company and its products or services won’t be either. Unfortunately, the media can sometimes turn on the honest executive, but in the end, a CEO who acknowledges a drop in quarterly profits or admits to failures in service will be respected by his employees and, ultimately, by the firm’s customers. It may be more comfortable to hide the truth that jobs are going to be cut or that there won’t be any bonuses this year, but that goes with the territory and the CEO who faces up to their responsibilities maintains that all-important credibility. Mark Mader of Smartsheet claims that on his way to a one billion dollar turnover one of the most important lessons he learned was that telling employees the truth is better than coddling them.
Probably the most important factor of successful CEO leadership is competence. It’s important to understand the company’s structure, its products or services and how those are made or delivered. It’s up to the CEO to determine the company’s strategy and to communicate that through executive and managerial levels to workers on the ground. And it has to be more than an empty slogan.
The roadmap has to inform every key decision on the journey and it won’t always be straightforward, so adapting to change is one of a CEO’s chief responsibilities. According to a survey by the Global Thought Leadership, the ability to “see around corners” is what most CEOs see as their number one competency, but four of the seven key elements in the survey were connected with change, so flexibility is paramount.
At the Anthony Gregg Partnership, we know that CEOs don’t last as long as diamonds, but by adhering to the three Cs, they can at least shine as brightly.