What Personal Characteristics Do You Need To Become an Executive?

by  Georgina Stewart  |  Leadership Development

Even though being an executive in any organisation can be a fulfilling job, it can also be a very challenging one. To be successful, you must have certain strong personal characteristics to take you through the day-to-day challenges. Some of these characteristics include:

1. Good Communication Skills
The business world is much more than putting ideas on the table. You have to know how to discuss the ideas in an understandable manner to your juniors during meetings. You must be able to stand confidently in front of everyone and speak coherently whenever you are addressing important issues. Always maintain eye contact to make sure everyone is listening when you are talking to them. Most importantly, you should always listen to your juniors or customers when they have something to say and act accordingly.

2. Commitment and Passion
Being a committed and passionate executive will help you promote and maintain a driven workforce. Commitment and passion require honesty, hard work, and excitement. You have to develop the habit of reporting to work early and leaving the office only after making sure that everything is in order. By doing this on a regular basis, you will always be able to project a sense of teamwork among your juniors and promote collaboration for the betterment of your organisation.

3. High Self-Esteem
As an executive, you have no choice but to have a strong sense of self-worth at all times. This means that you must have the ability to accept failures and criticisms without being egotistical. Accepting your failures and learning from them will enable you to make the right decisions and be a great leader. Note that as a leader, you cannot please everyone no matter what you do. So, be yourself and lead your juniors according to your wishes and principles, as long as you are doing the right thing.

4. Quick Thinker
You should always be able to identify and solve issues in a timely and effective manner. Markets, buyer behaviour, challenges, and opportunities change unpredictably all the time and hence, quick action is very essential for a good executive. You should always anticipate upcoming work and serve your organisation to the best of your ability.

5. Ability to Multi-Task
Due to the fact that you will inevitably have many tasks to do from time to time, you have to learn how to work under pressure and juggle deadlines in a responsible and organised way, either at home or at the workplace. This means that you have to be realistic about what to handle and always understand the timing of all documents and projects.

6. Flexibility
Being an executive requires a flexible attitude and being able to adjust to the fast-changing business environment. Apart from working during the normal hours, you should also be able handle emergency situations during weekends and late nights. You will sometimes be forced to cancel some plans to deal with critical situations.

7. Humility
To stand out from the rest, you have to be a humble and approachable person. This will make communication between you and your colleagues better, enabling you to understand everyone’s strengths and weaknesses and how to deal with them. This will also pave the way for people to chip in valuable suggestions to help you lead effectively.

8. Good Sense of Humour
The working environment can sometimes be tense and hectic. This is why you should always try to be friendly with your colleagues and share light moments with them once in a while to make them feel more comfortable and to be more productive while working.

9. Motivator
Do not be the kind of person who only looks for faults in order to rebuke others. Try as much as possible to motivate your juniors by appreciating their efforts, giving them promotions, and increasing their salaries. By doing this, you will be nurturing happy and dedicated employees who will be ready to do anything for your organisation to stay at the top.

10. Risk Taker
A frightened and apprehensive executive can easily lead an organisation to a downfall. So, you must always be courageous enough to take risks and go beyond the expected levels of influence and responsibility.

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What People Are Saying

Mary C Schaefer  |  24 Sep 2013  |  Reply

Georgina, this sentence in your last point really grabbed me.

“A frightened and apprehensive executive can easily lead an organisation to a downfall.”

It reminded me of some statistics I just read in the book “Primal Leadership” here recently. The authors of speak about how much impact a leader’s mood, among other things, can have on the organizational climate. They go on to say that 50-70% of employees’ perception of organizational climate comes from the boss, and how people feel about their work climate can impact revenue and performance by 20-30%.

Nothing new and shocking about that, but I’m so glad you wrote this post, much of which supports this data, and I’m so glad you are in a position to impact executives in this direction.

Georgina Stamp  |  26 Sep 2013  |  Reply

Hi Mary,

Thank you for taking the time to comment on my article and I’m glad you enjoyed it. I completely agree that a leader’s mood can have a significant impact on the workforce. It’s a role where you have to take responsibility and accept that your actions will affect all of those around you.

Thanks for informing me about Primal Leadership, if I find the time, I’ll make sure to check it out.

Kristy Smith  |  24 Sep 2013  |  Reply

Very nice concise list, Georgina. Thanks for the post!

Georgina Stamp  |  26 Sep 2013  |  Reply

Thank you Kristy, glad you found my post interesting!

Mark E.  |  25 Sep 2013  |  Reply

An excellent list. Some of the items on the list point to the characteristic of being able and willing to delegate authority and responsibility to others. Good managers I worked for delegated important assignments so as to get work done AND to develop others. I’ve also worked for those who would not delegate, and this trait lead to stalled careers and the loss of good workers who recognized the need to go elsewhere.

Georgina Stamp  |  26 Sep 2013  |  Reply

I completely agree Mark, a key aspect of being a leader is embracing the ambitions of those around you. It’s vital that you meet their expectations and help them to progress with new tasks and challenges when possible, everyone enjoys growth.

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