If you’re at the point in your career where you decide, “I don’t want to work for someone else anymore. I want to do my own thing, start my own business, be the boss—the CEO.” Good for you. You know what you want.
But, a wish is nothing; action is everything.
Venture capitalists tell me that they see, on average, 1,000 business plans a year and invest in only 8. The 8 are chosen as much for the idea as the CEO and his or her leadership skills.
So whatever job or role or level you are, start today to develop the leadership and generalist skills required in a CEO. Although it takes specialist skill/knowledge to get to the top, once there you have to be the generalist running the whole show.
So what are those generalist leadership skills that venture capitalists look for?
-Know a niche where you can produce stellar results.
-Will take the initiative to do whatever it takes (that’s legal, morale, and ethical!)
-Never think you are smart enough or know enough. You crave more information from everyone and anything and soak it up like a sponge.
-Have a fire in the belly to sustain you through rejections and setbacks and mistakes – because there will be many.
-Think, act and look confident so that people will follow you. You believe in yourself but back it up with preparation and homework.
-Are utterly trustworthy. (If you don’t have this, you have nothing.)
-Listen more than you talk but when you do talk, be clear, concise, and contribute something of value.
-Are decisive and fearless to address tough issues. You don’t hesitate to strike out and do what needs to be done.
-Don’t spend/waste time on the wrong issues.
-Seek candid feedback early and often and then do something about it.
-Cause people to want to be around you by doing all of the above; follow you when they don’t need to.
-Develop people around you. (You can’t move on to bigger things if you don’t have a backfill.)
-Are willing to be a tireless cheerleader and coach 24/7. (Remember the first rule of starting your own enterprise: You are in sales.)
-Keep your personal life in check – it’s what matters at the end of the work day.
Before you become CEO of an organization be sure you are CEO of your Life. Do not let anyone else be in charge of your development; you are in charge.
What’s cool is that you can home school yourself on being a leader instead of waiting for any big organization’s institutional rigor to click in. In fact, you can’t wait. Starting today, take on your own authority to think and act like the owner, the top boss, the CEO; do it regardless of your current job and title. Prepare before you leap, but then have the guts to actually leap.
Do it for yourself, your family, your career, your future, your organization, your team, your life, and your legacy.
You will work harder than you ever have in your life and it will be worth it.