4 attributes that make a CEO successful

Rob Enderle

2. Charisma

There are people who through their abilities can convince others to do almost anything. They exude believability. The average person trusts the best of these on sight, will tend to follow them, and they exude a personal power that seems to naturally push them into leadership positions.

Charismatic people tend to drift into politics or religion where this capability is most valued and it clearly can be learned. Folks without much charisma can be leaders they just typically have to work harder to advance their agenda. It’s interesting to note that this is likely one of the least valued skills in a CEO, but one of the most critical. It amazes me how many top executives just don’t learn how to talk to audiences and develop their charisma.  

You often find this in startup CEOs who have to form a team from scratch and develop a way of telling a story to create believers. This is the skill that gets orders followed, that gets investors to line up and invest, and gets people to buy products even when they really initially don’t need or want them.  

Personal charisma is in most successful CEOs, the ones that figure out how to use this on large groups of people tend to be incredibly powerful. CEOs like Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison, Elon Musk and even Bill Gates seemed to understand that taking their personal skill to large audiences was a force multiplier.

3. Good luck

Some people just seem to more often than others be in the right place at the right time. They were at work and in a position to make a critical memorable decision at the right time. But to take advantage of luck you need to both recognize the opportunity and be prepared to take advantage of it, which is why I subordinated to craftiness and charisma.

The difference between good luck and bad luck often has more to do with what the reaction to the event is than the event itself. For instance, you might think losing on the TV Show Shark Tank would be bad luck, but if you leverage the visibility into a successful company, then the appearance -- regardless of the outcome of the show -- was good luck.

Another example of this is when Meg Whitman ran for Governor of California. Her Hispanic housekeeper was discovered to be an illegal alien and her campaign could have pivoted one of two ways. She could have embraced her housekeeper, changed her position on illegal immigrants, at least with regard to this individual and then likely won the election, but instead she tossed the poor woman under a bus and unreasonably blamed her opponent for the problem and that cost her the election. Same event, two outcomes.

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