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You Cannot Be a Good CEO Without These Skills There is no school that can teach you to be a good leader.

By Dr. Gayathri Vasudevan

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What does it take to be the Chief Executive Officer of an organisation? There is no one answer to this question as the role of a leader is a multi-faceted one. Today's leaders are expected to possess a wide variety of skills and knowledge. Managing the C-suite is more than just functional. Earlier, organisations would hire those leaders who had relevant management experience. Today, they are willing to place their bets on leaders who bring different skill sets to the table and use those to help the organisation navigate the rapidly turbulent business environment.

Some are born leaders and they are naturally good at it too. But, with the right kind of attitude and a hunger for knowledge, one can learn and develop skills that will help in being a good leader. Here are some of the top skills that leaders should have:

Managing Chaos And Ambiguity: Society is changing so rapidly globally that a leader today can't for certain forecast what will happen in say in the next five or ten years. Organisations increasingly seek leaders who can do well in unknown, untested waters and be comfortable with chaos. The ability to anticipate outcomes is a leader's most distinguishing feature and being able to do that in an environment that is highly variable calls for a very refined mind.

Inspire and Communicate: Business is a team sport and no one ever became a great leader without being a good communicator. Great CEOs are able to connect with their employees on an emotional level and are able to push them beyond the boundaries. Such CEOs are honest, authentic and speak with authority. They are pro-active and also solicit feedback. They provide clear goals and directions so people don't waste their time. All these prove helpful in attracting the best talent and building a great team.

Agile Decision-making: Social and business environments are changing rapidly due to the fundamental changes in technology and communication. Solutions which were relevant ten years ago have become obsolete. The last two decades have seen new business models developing because of changes in processes and technology. CEO's, therefore, have to be alert and steer the organization and employees proactively to embrace change. Imposition of new solutions without enabling the team to be agile in its decision making will fail.

Emotional Intelligence & Talent Magnet: As organisations become flatter and more dispersed, leaders who understand and invest in people are going to thrive in the new world order. Talent is increasingly becoming the key differentiator between a successfully run organization and an organization which is seen a mere workplace. Connecting with employees, creating a culture of innovation, engendering a feeling of joy in the workplaces because of recognition of small victories is the most important differentiator between a good leader and an average one

There is no school that can teach you to be a good leader. Leaders whether in the for profit or not for profit world must learn on the job and learn while every stakeholder – government, customer, employee and shareholder is watching. It is a job like no other and new leaders are allowed to make very few mistakes. A Conference Board Study showed that the optimal lifespan of a CEO is 4.8 years. However, the fundamental competencies that make a successful leader such as vision, financial acumen, trustworthiness, high EQ etc. holds true across all sectors – for profit, not for profit or public sector. A plethora of operational experience and social and business environment judgment is critical in creating those skills, which the leader can draw upon to lead the organization efficiently. Good leaders are often visionaries and the path to that is an ability to listen to all stakeholders and apply the skills learnt through a lifetime of own and gained experiences.

Dr. Gayathri Vasudevan

Co-Founder & CEO, LabourNet Services India Pvt Ltd.

LabourNet is a Social Enterprise that enables livelihoods by focusing on ‘Real income Increase’ for informal sector workers. We provide ‘Vocational Education & Training Services’ and ‘Decent Work’ opportunities to the above segment. LabourNet is a platform which facilitates financial inclusion and social security measures to workers.


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