What Makes CEOs Both Successful and Approachable

Here are 3 critical behaviours to be a successful and approachable CEO.

  • Successful CEOs are adaptable

Being able to adapt to a changing environment is critical. The thing that separates good CEOs from great CEOs is their ability to deal with a situation that hasn’t been covered by in previous training. As a CEO, they are constantly faced with challenges.

Businesses must predict change. It is far better to be proactive than reactive.

CEOs spend time looking at their past, present and future goals and results. Most of the time should be spent looking to achieve the long-term goals. This enables them to see signs of a trend beginning and act quickly to take advantage of being early.

Adaptable CEOs use data to find patterns from product research tools and analytics that others may discard as unworthy sources. This trait enables great CEOs to make early changes and get ahead of the competition.

By being proactive comes the risk of making mistakes and suffering setbacks. This does not deter adaptable CEOs; in fact, they thrive. They know that mistakes mean there are more things to learn. Successful CEOs can identify where they need to improve and provide evidence of how they do so.


  • Successful CEOs make decisions with conviction

High-performing CEOs stand out from the rest not because they have excellent decision-making skills combined with the conviction to implement the actions. It doesn’t matter how little data they may have or if they are in unfamiliar territory.

Sometimes the information available may not be perfect and have all the answers needed. This is where an executive decision is required. Whatever the decision, it needs to be made assertively and with confidence.

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Great CEOs realise that making the wrong decision may end up being better than making no decision at all. This is because when a bad decision is made, at the very minimum, there was a defined direction of where it led to. CEOs do make mistakes but most of them do not cause much damage.

Those are slow at making decisions create bottlenecks for many aspects of the company, leading to stunted company growth. This will not only frustrate board members and shareholders, but also team members in the business itself.

Employees and other key business authorities will quickly lose faith in leaders who backtrack once a decision is made.

On the flip side, high-performing CEOs know when not to decide. This is an excellent quality to have as it highlights time management and organisation. If it’s best suited for the business, successful CEOs will take a step back and wait for more data to arrive. It may not be like this all the time but that’s what separates the good from the best.


  • Strong CEOs deliver results with a keen eye on shareholders

Great CEOs develop a strong understanding of what shareholders need and from the business. They actively seek to engage with the shareholders to define goals and make sure they are getting a good ROI.  

CEOs such as Madeline Bell, CEO of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, create a stakeholder map and spend time identifying detractors and their potential concerns. These CEOs still act decisively, however, by giving everyone a voice but not a vote.

During the interaction with stakeholders, it’s vital that CEOs remain composed and remain calm at all times. It’s worth noting that every single action during these meetings will be analysed and scrutinised.

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They will be making notes of everything that is said, all hand movements and body language will be recorded and commented. It’s important to stay focussed and be an assuring figure. It also ties back to the previous point about having faith in the leader.

However, this doesn’t imply to a popular person in the organisation. The job of a CEO is to make decisions and put the business before all personal interests, including those of team members. Low-performing CEOs worry too much about how they are perceived by their peers.

Successful CEOs gain the support of team members by ensuring them that the moves they make on behalf of the business are leading to success. This may mean making uncomfortable decisions which can cause clashes within the organisation.

This brings out another highly useful skill; conflict management. Great CEOs engage in conflict as it gives them a chance to respond to opposing views. They listen and solicit views but do not default to consensus-driven decision making.

These meetings are used to challenge CEOs and show them different perspectives on a situation. They must not be easily swayed and be careful not create the illusion of democracy. However, this doesn’t mean that CEOs should act completely alone.


Successful CEOs should demonstrate each of the three behaviours described above. They are guaranteed to improve the chance of becoming a great leader and experiencing success at the highest level.


Guest post courtesy of Sophie Garrod

Mercy - CBNation Team

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(, podcasts, ( and videos ( CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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