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The top 5 qualities new CEOs need to succeed

Moving from an operational role into a C Level position can be a huge leap for some people. As a CEO you need to have the ability to have a helicopter view, ensuring that big picture strategy has been paid attention to. You also need to have the skill to be able drill down into the detail, but only when needed. Especially if this is moving into a team which you don’t know, this needs to be a skillful balance.

This article gives an overview of the top five qualities new CEOs need to succeed, whether being promoted in their own company or being moved into another.

Giving the perception of trust.

If you’ve already been embedded into a business which you know isn’t working as well as it could and you are promoted into the C level role, how you handle this with your people is very important. You need to let key people, who you would like to keep with you on your journey know that you are with them and respect them, even if changes are to be made at some point. If you’re moving into a new business then you certainly need to take a step back for a while to give the perception of trust and encourage a team to perform as they usually would. This allows you to see how the team functionally performs with minimal interference and enables a “real time view” of performance and integration. Enabling you to understand the changes to be made for optimizing future performance.

Communication to the right people at the right time.

If you’re already in the company that you’ve been promoted you’ll have a good idea of the best person to communicate the most important tasks to. However it is very important to understand that your relationship with everybody changes when you move into a C level role within your own business. Be aware of competitors for your role; they may become your greatest allies and work with you in the best possible way. But they may also become reluctant employees within the business. Understanding how and when to communicate with people and what the content of the communication should be can take some time. In a new company it can be even tougher, so just sitting back and being cautious while you assess the new territory can be advantageous for the new CEO moving into a new company. Notice how the new company likes to communicate. What is effective? What is not effective? Coaching your new team through change and ensuring they feel involved will be essential as a new Leader. It can be useful to carry out a “Internal Communication Health Check” to understand what your employees think is communicated well and not so well to make rapid improvements. (connect with us here to learn more)

Making change at the right time.

Some people like to sit in the CEO role for 2 to 3 months and ensure that they are well embedded before they make major changes. However, today there is more pressure than ever to make change in a way which is as rapid as possible therefore you may not have this luxury. I’ll refer to communication above again because if you’re going to make change and it is the right time then great. However it’s important that this is extremely well communicated in the right order to your new team. It can be useful to bring together a core team of “Change Champions” in the business and ensure that the right people are on board to cascade the information down correctly. Ensuring you are communicating and embedding core values and reasons for the change throughout the business, along with the outcome and advantages.


If you’ve risen through the ranks of a company and you now have the pinnacle of the role that you’ve aspired to your entire life, it can be difficult to give away that day today detail work that used to enjoy so much. Some new CEOs find it very difficult to give away that control. Sometimes it’s a matter of trust, but sometimes it’s having that ability just to let go. Ensure that your time is spent in a place where you are going to be used in the best way possible in service of your company. Time management is where a great Leader excels and optimizes growth for their company as well as ensures happiness and downtime for themselves!


It has been great to be this accessible person. A friend to everybody and socially integrated with your team. Things will often change when you reach C level. Especially if you’ve been with your company for a long time and you’ve made it up to this role via promotion. The accessibility will change both ways and you need to ensure that your time is best spent in the areas which are in service to the business. You may find that your former colleagues start to not include you as much as they used to. Especially in small businesses where you’ve had close relationships. This is quite a shift for some CEO’s of smaller companies which find that transformation challenging. There is a saying that it's lonely at the top. Sometimes it can be. Maintaining a relationship with a Mentor or Coach can help with this transition.

Of course the above is a selection of challenges which I have worked through with my senior leaders across the world. They are different for every individual but they seem to re-occur as a pattern forming with people who have just moved into a C - level leadership role. Taking care of all of these challenges above within the first 3 to 6 months will sincerely help you maintain a happy and long career in your new role. Good luck!

If you are a CEO has just moved into this role please connect with us here to talk about how Coaching can help you overcome all of these challenges more quickly and identify areas where you can excel further.

Caroline Langston is the Founder of Successful Consultants Ltd, an Executive, Personal and Career Development Coaching company in Hong Kong and New York. She is also the Founder of a nonprofit organization providing free information and coaching to people who are unemployed. Caroline is dedicated to coaching people for success and happiness in their careers and lives. She is degree qualified with further certifications in Neuro Linguistic Programming at Master Practitioner and Coach level. She has completed 90 hours of training at International Coaching Federation (ICF) standards

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