This Is What You Need to Learn to Become A Successful CEO

Most articles that try to tell you how to become a great CEO will talk about actions, plans and processes. But as a leadership executive coach with over three decades of experience, I’ve seen hundreds of leaders fail because all they know is process and procedures.

To be a great CEO or an effective leader you must first start with who you are as a leader. That means concentrating on your character. Once you have clarity in that area, you can move on to what, when, where, and why of being an effective CEO.

So how do you start? You need to learn the following:

Define your character. The best way to make yourself stand out is by developing a strong foundational character and sense of integrity. Great leaders are admired because of the character they display and live by.

Act as the brand and ambassador. As a leader, you are also an ambassador for your brand, your company, your organization. That means who you are and what you do will always matter, so showcase the kind of message you want others to trust. When people don’t believe the messenger, they won’t believe the message.

Create a thriving organizational culture. To put yourself on track to become a successful CEO, you need to create a thriving, healthy, vibrant culture. That means making sure people feel invested in and nurtured, and keeping the company competitive in the market. Business school teaches you to focus on organizational strategy. And strategy is important, but a thriving organizational culture is an even more critical for long-term competitive advantage.

Communicate consistently and with candor. As an aspiring CEO, you must be able to communicate clearly and consistently so those who work for you understand how they can be productive and effective. Every new CEO must come to understand the importance of communication to great leadership.

Underpromise and overdeliver. Accept responsibility and ownership that you are the one guiding the ship, and lead to the best of your ability at all times. Make every decision in the best interests of the company, and do what’s right, not what’s easy.

Stay curious. If you want to be successful as a CEO, you have to cultivate inquisitiveness. Remind yourself that you do not know everything about the business, no matter how much of a subject matter expert you may be. Stay curious enough to learn, and be willing to ask questions and find new answers.

Embrace change. Any successful CEO must be able to embrace change and be prepared to be flexible and agile; rapid change is a fundamental part of business today. Every business is in constant flux in an increasingly fast-paced technology-driven world. If  you wait, you are going to be left behind.

Implement diversity. For the highest degree of success, surround yourself with a diverse team. Seek out people with variations of talent and contrasting aptitudes—people who will bring their very best ideas, not just agree with your every word. If you value difference and implement diversity, your team will respect one another for who they are.

Manage relationships. Most CEOs are taught to foster good relationships with their own teams, but the most successful know the value of managing relationships of every level and direction. A major part of a CEO’s job is learning how to be influential in all relationships, directing them like an orchestra.

Lead by example. To be successful as a CEO, you need to be able to define your leadership so others can follow your model. If you’re not providing the leadership your organization needs, people will seek it elsewhere, undermining your influence and credibility.

The lure of the corner office is exciting, but the job is a massive undertaking. CEOs are asked to do it all; therefore; it’s important to learn a wide range of business and personal skills.

Lead From Within: At the soul of every great company, every great team, every great culture, is the heart of a great leader.



N A T I O N A L   B E S T S E L L E R
The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness

After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

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Photo Credit: iStock Photo

Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR,, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.

  1. Maddie Wolf

    06. Aug, 2018

    This is a very helpful blog about what it takes to become a CEO. I’ve read plenty of blogs that talk about CEO strategies and processes, but I like that this one talks about the personal side of it, which is just as important if not more important than the strategy and processes. They could be an expert on procedures, but if they aren’t able to be a leader, create a culture, build trust, etc. with your company than it’s easy to fail. Being personable, leading by example, and creating and adapting to change isn’t easy, but it’s something all CEO’s need to do regardless of what company they’re apart of.

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  2. Leah

    27. Oct, 2019

    Fantastic post… Thank you for great tips!

    Reply to this comment
  3. Colitco

    16. Dec, 2020

    Simple, Basic, yet most important points covered. Most of the young entrepreneurs fail because they get too deep into the process but leave the basics behind why they actually started it.

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