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How to develop a CEO mindset

Author: ICAEW Insights

Published: 18 Nov 2022

For finance professionals in business, the progression from CFO to CEO is a tried and tested route. But no matter where you are in your career, you can forge a CEO mindset on your own, says business coach Anthony Webb.

Irrespective of the position you hold in your business, possessing a strong and confident mindset is fundamental to finding personal and professional success. In any instance, this, along with many other admirable attributes, is what comprises a ‘CEO mindset’; essentially, an outlook that drives success, accomplishment, and leadership. 

However, these abilities do not always come naturally, and business professionals often find themselves asking how they can take it upon themselves to develop a CEO mindset.

Being a CEO is arguably one of the most arduous yet sought-after jobs in the business world. With a reported 40% of new CEOs failing to live up to their employers’ expectations 18 months after being appointed, the attitude and mentality required to flourish in this role is certainly nuanced. 

Success demands resilience to lead your business through all manner of problems that may arise – a trait much in demand in the current uncertain economic environment. It also requires self-awareness, determination, drive, commitment and more. The complexity of a CEO mindset means we must allow ourselves to grow and develop in order to flourish.

How can a budding professional forge a CEO mindset on their own? 

Remember that your mindset isn’t a fixed set of traits

A CEO mindset is essentially a set of psychological traits, which form the makings of a successful business leader, including confidence, resilience and ambition. Challenges and setbacks shouldn’t stop these individuals from growing and moving forward; their overall outlook should encompass an unrelenting determination to accomplish their own personal and professional goals.

For those who aren’t naturally the most outgoing individuals, developing a CEO mindset may feel like an impossible task. Fortunately, our mindsets are fluid and can be developed to support our professional development. 

Remember: “What you think, you become!” We are all capable of growing and developing as people, these traits are not unattainable for any working professional. If you allow yourself to believe that you are capable of developing a CEO mindset and working towards these goals, you will.

Don’t refrain from communicating your vision and ideas

As a CEO, one of the most important things to remember is that you are at the helm of the ship; you must steer the business in accordance with your vision for the future and experience. Therefore, developing a strong, clear vision is essential for the smooth running of a company. 

In order to develop a CEO mindset and demonstrate such vision, consider how you feel the business, or your team specifically, could improve. If you have ideas, share them with your colleagues; showcasing your commitment to the company will help to develop necessary leadership and communication skills.

Meanwhile, soak up the ideas and teachings your CEO shares. In order to succeed as a business leader, we must learn from the various traits and attributes that leading CEOs exhibit. Practise what they preach, so to speak. 

Be ready to hold yourself accountable

It is inevitable that throughout your career you will encounter hurdles. When things get tough, anyone can throw in the towel or attempt to pass the buck. What separates someone with a CEO mindset is their ability to positively respond to any challenges they are faced with. 

You must view these difficulties as an opportunity to learn from your mistakes, making any necessary changes going forward. This maturity and perspective is essential in any budding CEO.

Self-awareness is critical to developing a CEO mindset. The ability to flex, change your perspective, take responsibility, strengthen your communication with those around you, and more, will all allow you to flourish as a business professional.

Remember that mental wellbeing is key

Developing a CEO mindset requires you to prioritise your wellbeing. As you rise through the ranks, the process of taking on greater responsibility can be mentally strenuous. Therefore, keeping your mental wellbeing in check is critical. It takes time and self-reflection, as you consistently evaluate why you behave and think the way you do. 

As such, it is important that you have support throughout your journey. I would suggest that every business provides their employees with access to a range of resources to help them succeed. It’s about setting healthy boundaries and encouraging open communication in the workplace. By providing employees with a guide, businesses can demonstrate a commitment to their wellbeing while fostering productivity and success.

No matter who you are, or what circumstances you find yourself in, there is a pathway to the top for those who commit to the process. Every budding CEO must work to develop these attributes. Ultimately, they are in control of strengthening their mindset. 

Anthony Webb is a business coach.

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