5 tips for new CEOs

On Monday, a friend of mine will take over as CEO of a credit union for the first time. She’s wanted a CEO position for a while, and after years of success as a CFO, she certainly has the financial chops.

Those who have occupied the corner office know that leading an organization requires more than an industry’s technical skills. In fact, in many cases, those skills are best handled by others on the senior management team.

A CEO must instead be the organization’s visionary, cheerleader, brand ambassador and commander in times of crisis. How does a successful leader make that transition?

I asked several current and former CEOs for their advice. Here are five tips they stressed the most often.

  1. Listen and learn. We’ve all heard the saying, “you have two ears and only one mouth for a reason.” The buck stops with the CEO, but to make the most informed decision possible, he or she must be willing to listen to each and every viewpoint. You don’t have to agree, but a good leader will recognize the validity in a dissenting viewpoint, if for no other reason than to understand the challenges he or she will face in implementing a new strategy. Listening and learning will also help a new CEO build self-confidence. The more one knows, the more confident you will feel in your decisions.
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