CEO Excellence | Carolyn Dewar

Summary of: CEO Excellence: The Six Mindsets That Distinguish the Best Leaders from the Rest
By: Carolyn Dewar


Embark on a journey to understand the secrets of exceptional leadership in ‘CEO Excellence: The Six Mindsets That Distinguish the Best Leaders from the Rest’ by Carolyn Dewar. This book uncovers the six key CEO responsibilities gleaned from comprehensive interviews with 67 elite leaders. The book reveals their approach to setting directions, aligning organizations, mobilizing through leaders, engaging with the board, connecting with stakeholders, and managing personal effectiveness. By drawing on their wisdom, you will discover how top CEOs bring courage, embrace change, champion company culture and create game-changing strategies.

The Demands of Being a CEO

CEOs are crucial in shaping the performance of their organizations, especially in terms of finances. However, being a CEO involves much more than producing returns. CEOs must stay current with various issues, such as technology and diversity, and be mindful of the impact of social media on their actions. The responsibility of CEOs is immense, and even experienced leaders may fall short. The authors of the book distilled a list of the top 200 leaders and identified six main responsibilities: setting direction, aligning the organization, mobilizing through leaders, engaging the board, connecting with stakeholders, and managing personal effectiveness.

Transformative Strategies By Successful CEOs

Best CEOs recognize the importance of embracing potential game-changing opportunities and establishing an expanded organizational vision. Examples of such CEOs include Reed Hastings of Netflix, Herbert Hainer of Adidas, and Satya Nadella of Microsoft. The transformative strategies implemented by these CEOs include pursuing unique visions, revamping marketing strategies, acquiring complementary businesses, and shifting focus to online subscription services. These strategies often yield transformational results, such as Netflix’s current dominance and Adidas’s increase in market value from $3.4 billion to more than $30 billion under Hainer’s leadership. Nadella’s moves brought a 60% increase in revenue for Microsoft during his tenure.

The Soft Skills of Successful CEOs

Change requires an emotional element that involves addressing company culture and people. While most CEO’s focus on the hard stuff, elite CEOs recognize the importance of both. These CEOs are more likely to execute their strategies successfully, resulting in nearly twice the effectiveness rate. Transforming corporate culture necessitates a CEO to pinpoint a particular area of concern. The CEOs need to understand that addressing the mindset issues is more challenging than technical ones. The change starts at the top and requires the workforce’s participation to embrace change. Successful CEOs like Ana Botin, Kazuo Hirai, and Ajay Banga have motivated their workforce in unique ways by instituting simple, clear philosophies. Former Inuit CEO Brad Smith led by example by admitting his own mistakes and encouraging his leadership team to do the same. Finally, successful CEOs understand that leadership involves dealing with unsolved problems, and they address them head-on.

Building a Top Management Team

CEOs should prioritize building functional top management teams to ensure their organization’s success. A united leadership team with common goals and a balance of short-term and long-term responsibilities can lead to twice the average company performance. However, there is often a disconnect between CEO and senior executive perspectives on team performance. CEOs must define roles and determine necessary skills and experiences when building their executive team, with an emphasis on attitude and aptitude. It is essential to have a team that trusts and collaborates with one another to achieve critical organizational success.

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