"I have not learned how to be a CEO"

In our previous post, we’ve discussed about the countless tasks that you, as the CEO, have to deal with and the leader you have to be in order to succeed. But, you must be asking: How do I do this? How do I develop fortitude, leadership and strength?

There are lucky individuals who were born with leadership ability. Sometimes, you read a biography of a leader or a famous manager and it explains that already at a young age, his characteristics of courage, leadership and management ability were obvious, maturing within him and helping to turn him into a leader as he came of age. If you are honest with yourself and have a well-developed sense of self - awareness, you will, in most cases, say: I am not as strong as I think I should be. I have fears and worries. I feel hurt when criticized. I don’t have enough energy and enthusiasm to make people want to follow me. I have not learned how to be a CEO.

Here you are touching on one of the most important and painful points. Despite the critical importance of the CEO’s role, there is no formal framework in which to study for the job. There are educational institutions to prepare you for all the careers that exist in a company: accountant, engineering, marketing, sales, human resources, product management. But, for the most important and critical position for the success of the company, the CEO, there is no such framework in which you can study how to do your job!

You say: There are schools for studying business and courses for developing management skills. Go there and learn how to be a CEO. My answer: I have been there. I studied many important professional and management topics. However, I never learned the main subject. I didn’t learn how to be a leader, to be strong, to have fortitude, to be decisive, to persuade the company to follow me. If you have these abilities, the rest is not important, because you can always hire talented managers who will take care of all the daily administrative details and the other ongoing activities.

You say: You are asking for something impossible. Business school teaches you practical topics. It can’t change your personality. Either you are born with these characteristics, or not. My response: You are mistaken! And that’s the great news. You can learn this, or to be more exact, you can grow and become a leader. I promise you that it doesn’t matter from what point you are starting. You can be 10 times better as a CEO and leader than you are today! The path is not simple and it is not based on formal studying and memorizing information as you did at university.

The way to do it is through deep internal change. You are the reflection of your own inner life. If you want to appear strong, brave, decisive and a persuasive leader, you must be so inside, in your very being. An external show of yourself as a leader won’t last if your internal life does not match this. However, internal change is not taught at universities. Internal change is created through integrating life experiences and interacting with people we meet along the way, and most importantly, it is achieved through increasing self-awareness and through our openness to change as a result of these interactions with life and people.

Since you did not learn how to be a CEO and leader at a university, your performance is at first somewhat incomplete and you “glide along” in your leadership of the company in the early period (which can take many years) until you have gained enough experience to substantially improve your performance. Meanwhile, during those first years, the company won’t grow at the rate that it could have, won’t sell and make the profits that it could and it may even miss a crucial window of opportunity to break into the market, which will never return.

But there is another path, although it is available only to leaders and CEOs with a high level of self- awareness and uninflated egos, who can admit to themselves that they have room for improvement, don’t know everything, and who possess a strong will to be better. To these people, there is another way forward – the path to create internal change which will shine outward in the form of a CEO, or manager, who one can trust.

What is this path? Where do you learn it? This is not a formal course of study. There is no class, no lecturer and no formal tests. Instead, you build the curriculum yourself and it is tailored to your needs and personality. ”The lecturer” is essentially different people, some of whom are work coaches, spiritual teachers and books. The tests are life itself. You are tested at every moment and during every event. And the way you cope with life and these challenges, will be your grade, and it is better if it goes up gradually. Your desire to be successful, your openness, and your understanding that only in this way can you succeed can substantially shorten the amount of time it takes for you to turn into a quality CEO and a real leader. It will also decide your level of success in the job and your future in the company you manage.

How do you formulate the learning plan for this other path? And how does it create success? We’ll cover this in the next articles.

Success is within your reach, or to be more exact, within your mind. Good luck!

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