Whether you are about to head to college or have been stuck in the same job for 20 years, there are countless career paths available for those with ambition, passion, and courage to chase their dreams. This is also the case if you have the aspiration of running a successful business.
Many individuals fantasize about becoming a CEO, where they can oversee the day-to-day operations of a company, make the important decisions, and bring home a bumper wage. Sadly for the regular person, there’s no fast-track to the top in the world of business, and few put in the effort, time, and energy it requires to make it a reality.
Are you extraordinary? Do you have the right skills and leadership qualities to become an industry kingpin? If so, this guide will list six steps to take on your way to becoming a high-flying CEO.
Step #1: Understand your strengths
Before anything else, it is important you take a close look at yourself to understand your strengths. While you may believe that every CEO has a set list of skills to succeed in their role, this isn’t the case. All leaders boast their own collection of talents, and these are utilized in different ways to bring out not only the best in themselves, but also others.
Why should you identify your strongest skills and assets? By doing this, you can gain a greater idea about which path to take when progressing your career. You’ll also be aware of which areas you need to improve upon before contemplating the jump to being a CEO.
Step #2: Know what skills are required
You’re aware of your strengths. However, you also need to appreciate which essential skills are necessary to become a successful CEO. Without a certain key skill in your repertoire, you won’t be able to perform to an optimal level as a leader – and this could result in you missing out on opportunities.
Below are the key skills a CEO possesses:
- Communication: It goes without saying, but strong communication skills are an integral element for someone in a leadership position. From face-to-face interactions to emails, communication has to be clear, concise, and easy to understand for everyone throughout. If a message becomes muddled from the top, for instance, it can lead to significant problems at every level of the company.
- Listening: Alongside proficient communication skills, a successful CEO also requires great listening skills. It’s not just about listening to the voices closest to them, either – it’s about hearing the thoughts and opinions of those at all levels. Furthermore, that listening turns into trust.
- Management: Leadership is all about excellent management. By putting together the correct organizational structure, hiring the right workers, delegating tasks effectively, and so on, a business has the correct foundation for success.
- Ambition: Nobody falls into the position of being a CEO. It takes a hefty quantity of ambition and drive to reach this lofty position. Yet ambition and big picture thinking shouldn’t cease once someone has become the top dog in an organization. They need to always be strategic about the direction of the business, knowing about trend shifts and be willing to adapt when necessary.
- Open-mindedness: A CEO should never be stuck in their ways and unwilling to adapt. In fact, their mindset should always be one that is open to new methods, technology, and ideas. This also encourages employees to attempt new procedures and processes, ultimately improving the company overall.
- Decisiveness: As the head of a business, the CEO is relied upon to make the big decisions – and remain committed to them. A decisive approach ensures everyone knows the overall goal, and this supplies confidence throughout the organization.
Step #3: Gaining an education
Further education is vital for two main reasons. One, what you learn at college and university is applicable for your career. Two, it looks attractive on your resume and is the gateway to landing lucrative job opportunities. The latter is particularly important because, unless you start your own company, the chance of becoming a CEO without a degree is close to zero.
As for what undergraduate degree you should study, subjects such as business, economics, accounting and finance, science, and liberal arts make sense. Once the undergraduate degree is completed, an MBA from a respected educational institution is highly recommended.
Step #4: Build connections
Connections should be built before you even graduate from college. Why? Well, connections get your foot in the door. They’re the ideal route to take when searching for your initial post-graduate job.
Due to this, an integral element in building connections is through internships. Keep in mind your training should also match up to the industry you’re hoping to join. By doing this while in university, you’re provided with a head start that shortens that all-important first job hunt.
Step #5: Continue your education while working
It’s a lot to juggle, admittedly. However, don’t view your MBA as the final step in your educational journey. Even when you have secured a promising position with the potential to rise through the ranks, a doctoral degree supplies you with advanced knowledge that will further support your ambition to become a CEO.
However, achieving an executive Doctor of Business Administration degree might seem impossible while also in employment. Yet, that’s not the case thanks to online education. For instance, Aston University is a respected institution where you can earn an online DBA. This allows you to continue working while studying for the degree.
Step #6: Work hard
It’s the most obvious point, but it is also one which many fail to do. To reach the top and become a CEO, you need to get promoted. To get promoted, you need to work extremely hard and demonstrate you have the ability to be a leader.
In general, CEOs are appointed by board members. As a result, it makes sense to build fruitful relationships with your company’s board. By doing this, you’ll position yourself on their radar – and this could lead to you being considered for promotion when there are openings for future leadership roles.