Get All Access for $5/mo

8 Strategies to Becoming a Badass CEO C-Suiters share their secret sauce for exceptional leadership.

Grace Lackey | The Oracles

Imagine a world where everyone woke up feeling inspired to go to work. Unfortunately, many businesses are a toxic blend of apathy, political paranoia, and self-interest.

Eight CEOs and members of The Oracles share their number one strategy for building and leading an elite, peak-performance team.

Dottie Herman
Image credit: The Oracles

1. Inspire the ordinary to become extraordinary.

Very few of us have so-called "dream jobs," like being a rock star or a professional athlete. Most jobs are pretty ordinary. So, how do you maximize the contributions of each employee—especially if they're feeling apathetic, burned out, or unimportant?

Traditional leadership styles are centered around control. Managers set expectations and then check to see if they're met. However, that kind of top-down leadership ultimately isn't effective. In today's successful corporations, more decisions are made from the bottom up, with accountability at lower levels.

In light of this, we must learn to influence instead of trying to control. Regardless of where they sit within the organization, the best leaders inspire the ordinary to become extraordinary through their actions. Dottie Herman, CEO of Douglas Elliman, a real estate brokerage empire with more than $27 billion in annual sales

Melanie Perkins
Image credit: The Oracles

2. Set massive goals.

Effective leaders inspire others with their vision and consistently help their team focus on the most impactful tasks while removing the noise around everything else.

Set huge goals that inspire and motivate your team, then create a plan to achieve those goals together. Great people are excited by great challenges. It's easier to convince them to join your quest when you're setting out to accomplish something monumental.

Also, take advantage of a coach! All the best sports teams in the world have coaches to ensure peak performance, so we use internal coaching for our teams too. People are the backbone of your success, so supporting them is your top priority. —Melanie Perkins, co-founder and CEO of Canva, which is valued at over a billion dollars

Liz Herrera
Image credit: The Oracles

3. Encourage feedback without judgment.

The astronomer Carl Sagan once said, "There is no such thing as a dumb question." While this is a common phrase, most people have difficulty believing it—and if your people are afraid to ask questions, they'll probably be even more hesitant to make suggestions.

All businesses need helpful suggestions to grow. From entry-level employees to managers, those on the front lines of your business often have the best ideas. On the flip side, CEOs can be limited by their broad scope.

One way to encourage employees to express themselves openly is through brainstorming sessions. Once a week, we have a group session where any idea can be discussed without judgment. Our motto is that there are no bad ideas, just the ones not voiced. Liz Herrera, founder and CEO of I Build Your Brand, and former global top-20 online poker earner, as featured in "The Mental Game of Poker" book; follow Liz on YouTube

Simon Grabowski
Image credit: The Oracles

4. Hire people who align with your culture.

When hiring, it's always important to look for qualities that match your company culture. At both ClickMeeting and GetResponse, we share the same goal: to provide the best solutions for our customers and have fun doing it. We're a team and you can tell!

When we look for new people to join us, we always look for someone with an ambitious, team-player attitude. If you stay connected to your team, you'll never be just a manager. You'll be a world-class leader who brings success to your whole company, regardless of your role. Simon Grabowski, founder and CEO of ClickMeeting

Jess Lenouvel
Image credit: The Oracles

5. Put the right person in the right role.

Defining someone's role goes beyond a mere job description; it should intersect their strengths with what they truly love doing. Aligning responsibilities with strengths means they'll produce great work, feel fulfilled, and reach their fullest potential. This applies to leadership, too. Delegate anything that doesn't fall within your "zone of genius" or that you don't love doing.

Core values should also be the most important part of your mission, vision, and culture, to attract your "company's soulmate." They'll also clearly understand your expectations and feel empowered to make decisions that propel your company forward. Jess Lenouvel, realtor for over a decade and founder of The Listings Lab for Realtors; built a multiple seven-figure business that sold over $300 million of property in five years; read Jess's story: How I Escaped Domestic Violence

Craig Handley
Image credit: The Oracles

6. Get to know your team.

To be a great leader, you have to spend time with your team. Your employees should know that you care about them and are committed to helping them. Celebrate their triumphs and help them achieve new ones. Discover what motivates them. Ask your team about their family, passions, hopes, and dreams. With this knowledge, you can better empower them to set higher goals and continuously improve their performance.

Part of getting to know your team is letting them get to know you. Demonstrate that you are just like them. Last Halloween, I encouraged everyone to dress up. I joined them by dressing as Madonna—wig, makeup, and all. Lead by example, achieving your own goals and showing that anything in life is possible. — Craig Handley, co-founder and CEO of ListenTrust; read more about Handley: This boss hires and trains his employees to quit

Sharran Srivatsaa
Image credit: The Oracles

7. Empower employees to unlock their "zone of genius.'

Focus is more important than intelligence in today's world. When a high-achiever focuses and works in their "zone of genius," they deliver game-changing results. How can you get high-achievers to focus on their individual area of genius?

The answer is simple: Align their capabilities with their capacity. We all have numerous capabilities such as sales, problem-solving, or engineering. However, we have limited time—and thus, limited capacity. As leaders, our core job is to ensure that our teams are spending most of their time (capacity) working within their zone of genius (capability).

To find your zone of genius, start by asking the question, "If I could only work for two hours every day this month, what would I spend my time doing?" This question instantly helps you find the one or two skill sets that allow you to reach your true potential. Sharran Srivatsaa, angel investor and CEO of Kingston Lane, a push-button technology execution platform for real estate; grew Teles Properties 10X in five years

Marina Rose
Image credit: The Oracles

8. Remember that leading is an inside job.

To be an exceptional leader you have to work on yourself, build your emotional and intuitive intelligence, and take risks fiercely. It's an inside job.

When I consult with corporations, I encounter a few common C-level mistakes. One occurs when leaders are held back by ego, fear, resistance to change, or an unwillingness to take risks; another is when they don't empower their team members.

Emotional intelligence is a cultivated skill that harnesses emotional awareness, mindfulness and kindness. By regulating your emotions and reading others' emotions, proficient out-of-the-box thinking occurs, resulting in expedited and elite problem-solving. Intuitive Intelligence is an exceedingly precise evolutionary human intelligence that yields mastery in instantly understanding something, without having all of the information or the need for conscious analytical reasoning.

Build your emotional and intuitive savvy for extraordinary thinking that offers you sustained off the charts business performance while improving your financial bottom line.

How do you do that? Create an empowering environment of curiosity, creativity, positivity, and innovation. Listen and learn to what motivates your team members. Find out what their brilliance and genius is and utilize it. Remember to celebrate your team members inventiveness and intelligence. Marina Rose, QDNA® founder and developer of Quantum DNA Acceleration®, a revolutionary technique for quantum growth in health, life, and business; connect with Marina on Facebook

Want to share your insights like those above in a future column? If you're an experienced entrepreneur, please get in touch here.

Want to suggest a future topic for these entrepreneurs to answer? Email, and it's very possible we'll make your suggestion the focus of a future article!

Follow The Oracles on Facebook.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Business Solutions

Increase Productivity with This Microsoft 365 Subscription, Now $25 Off

It can make the entrepreneur life a lot easier.

Business News

Apple Pay Later Is Ending. Here's What's Taking Its Place.

The program was available for less than a year.


This Artist Answered a Businessman's 'Powerful' Question — Then His Work Became 'the Poster Child for Juneteenth': 'Your Network Really Becomes Your Net Worth'

Reginald Adams was the executive director of a Houston-based art museum for more than a decade before he decided to launch his own public art and design firm.


Harvard Business School Professor Says 65% of Startups Fail for One Reason. Here's How to Avoid It.

Team alignment isn't nice to have -- it's critical for running a successful business.

Business News

Here's What Companies Are Open and Closed on Juneteenth 2024

Since it became a holiday in 2021, Juneteenth has been recognized by some major corporations as a paid day off.

Growing a Business

I Hit $100 Million in Annual Revenue by Being More Transparent — Here Are the 3 Strategies That Helped Me Succeed

Three road-tested ways to be more transparent and build relationships that can transform your business — without leaving you feeling nightmarishly over-exposed.