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What Separates Outperforming CEOs from Average Ones

While there are a lot of factors that will determine the success or downfall of a business, being a CEO with the right mindset can help you take the steps needed to achieve your goals and fulfill your company vision. But you might be wondering, what really is “the right mindset” to have as a CEO? How do the CEOs we know and admire so seamlessly get from zero to a hundred?

Here are the traits and characteristics that make these CEOs the thought-leaders that they are today.

They make sure to get out of their comfort zone (responsibly)

We’ve heard it before: if you want to become a great leader, you have to become a risk-taker. But let’s clarify this term for a moment and flesh it out a little more.

Being a risk-taker doesn’t mean making reckless and tactless moves for no real reason. Great CEOs understand which risks are worth taking for the sake of advancing the company, which is where risk management comes into play. Outperforming CEOs are what they are because they take calculated risks; risks they know they themselves, their employees, and their company can handle.

But now you’re wondering, how can you be a careful risk-taker without obsessing over every decision you make? It’s simple: great leaders and CEOs would rather take wrong action than no action at all. Whenever you find yourself falling into “the obsessive thinking loophole,” always come back to that one thought, “better do something than nothing at all.”

You do what you can to gather the necessary data to help you make an informed decision, and then you make a decision based on that. Striking a balance between taking calculated risks and being a quick decision-maker will require some patience with yourself—you’re going to make some awful decisions, but that’s just part of the life of an outperforming CEO. Embrace it.

They never say “that’s just how we’ve always done it”

“It’s dealing with situations that are not in the playbook. As a CEO you are constantly faced with situations where a playbook simply cannot exist. You’d better be ready to adapt.” A statement made by Dominic Barton, former Global Managing Partner of McKinsey & Co., when asked what he believed differentiates effective executives.

If you’re a CEO or an executive or a manager or even an entry-level employee, you’ll be doing yourself a favor if you erase the aforementioned phrase in the subtitle from your dictionary all together—You’re looking to become a CEO that outshines the competition? Stop relying on these “preset” rules you’ve placed for yourself and your company.

Outperforming CEOs recognize that not everything will always go smoothly, especially not in the fast-changing world we now live in. This is why they’re always on the lookout for changes in the market and act quickly to adapt to those changes.

Change doesn’t necessarily mean changing the entire premise on which you’ve built your company; it’s revising the framework and strategy you and your team have placed at the beginning when it all started. It’s constantly remaining aware of what your company is doing right and what it’s doing wrong, and doing your best to always keep up with market demands. Change is a daunting and intimidating concept, but if doing this necessary “change” will mean keeping your company’s progress from stagnating, then it’s better to take that risk and fail than to take no risk at all.

They really care about their employees’ wellbeing

It turns out, doing what you can to improve your employees’ wellbeing is a great investment. According to this 2021 IBM CEO study, CEOs who experienced revenue growth leading up to—and during—2020, say that they will support their employees even if it hurts profitability. And that same study says that these outperforming CEOs invest in employee-wellbeing twice as often as their underperforming peers.

Burnout has become a real issue during the pandemic, and this research conducted by Microsoft in September 2020 proves this. It states that 30 percent of frontline and remote workers report experiencing more burnout than they ever did before. So what would an outperforming CEO do about this? They listen. Listen to what your employees need and want to feel emotionally and financially secure in their jobs, to feel like they’re advancing in their career in some way, and to feel like they’re contributing to your company.

The year 2020 has seen many employees switch employers despite the high unemployment rates—that’s how desperate employees are. If you want to get ahead in the competition, listen to the demands of the very people who are helping you make your vision for the company a reality.

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