TalentLeadership DevelopmentWhat are the traits of an effective CEO?

What are the traits of an effective CEO?

For business leaders to succeed in an age of uncertainty, they must be willing to adapt and understand the demands of their workforce. HRD Connect delves into the ever-changing role of a CEO.

As the work landscape changes, business leaders play a key part in managing constant change within their organisation. Due to expectations of work changing, and digital transformation, the role of leaders today have changed drastically. To examine how the traits of an effective leader have changed, HRD Connect spoke to Martin Falch, CEO, 360 Leaders.

Why was 360 Leaders founded?

Twelve years ago, several founders and CEOs we encountered struggled to lead businesses because of their lack of experience. So, we pulled together some of the top entrepreneurs in the UK tech industry, and brought in some of the top coaches in the UK to help them on their journey to becoming a real leader.

What makes a good CEO?

The secret to good leadership is truly understanding what makes people tick and want to work hard. Employees want to make an impact and do well. Good leaders recognise that.

As a CEO, you’re right in the middle, between management and the workforce. It’s becoming more important to be a great leader which means higher expectations. The school of leadership is based on legacy, and a lot of masculine leadership models are still prevalent and dominant today. That makes it tough to be a modern leader and understand the importance of humility within your team.

We believe that when it comes to hiring and attracting talent, it’s not the company that is the main attraction factor. It’s the leaders that attract people. Our philosophy is to work with CEOs and make them as attractive as possible.

Is there a common type of CEO that you regularly see?

What’s interesting is that people are drifting away from the experienced CEOs, and focusing more on the ones with potential. Of course, in bigger companies and corporates, they are still looking for a certain amount of experience. However, in our world, where we work with young tech companies that are growing remarkably fast, they’re looking for people who have potential, the ability to adapt to change, have a clear vision, and communicate that vision across all levels of the company.

The traditional strategy was that as long as you hired someone experienced, then you’re fine, which isn’t always the case. We believe that companies are now taking a much more open-minded, potential driven approach to hiring CEOs. This comes with risk, but all hires come with uncertainty. Hiring someone who is experienced but not invested in the role is as much of a risk as hiring someone with higher potential and no experience. Studies show that even after three high-performing CEO performances, they can still fail.

How much of an impact can the hunger of a CEO have on a workforce? 

This is particularly relevant with the millennial generation. Young leaders come in right at the top looking for self-realisation. People say they’re entitled, but they’re just looking for a purpose. Work for this generation has become much more about what a company can do for you, and how they can accommodate you, and your aspirations.

Consumers and employees aren’t loyal anymore. They will always look for somebody who’s going to accommodate them in the best way possible.

People today are very conscious of what they get from the workplace because they spend 80% of their lives there. Organisations can tackle this obstacle through two routes. One is by creating a workspace that heavily prioritises a positive inclusive workplace culture, or you could create a kind of culture where you’re thrown in the deep end and constantly challenged. You get overworked, but you’re also thriving because all of your talents are being tested to the limits. These are the things that draw people to leaders. It’s not always the strength of a CEO that attracts or retains people, but it’s often the weakness and the vulnerability of the CEO that matters.

How has the role of the CEO changed in the past 20 years?

Things are still very much old fashioned. However, there are many companies with trends around mindfulness and self-development. I believe in today’s age, people are much more focused on mental health. Being somebody who can make sure that the right people get the right jobs, for the right reasons, is important today.

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