Hiring the best CEO
By: Tristan Anwyn
The right CEO can take your company forward with vision, resulting in a bigger customer base, a better company profile and of course more profits.
How do you hire the best? There are practical things you can do to see if your candidate has the experience and qualifications, from proven track records to past education, but a great leader is more than a list of profit figures and success stories.
What are the intangible qualities that make a CEO the cream of the crop? And how can you measure the immeasurable?
Wisdom is the ability to apply good judgment to a given situation and choose the right course of action. Wisdom can't be taught - it's a combination of life experience with the ability for introspection.
A wise CEO will take time to review their actions and decisions and look at the link between them and the outcome of a given situation. Wisdom includes willingness to analyze what has happened and why, to review what worked and what didn't, and to apply that knowledge in the future.
How can you measure it?Ask them about situations where they took time to review it and decided to do things differently in future. A wise CEO learns from situations and improves, rather than grandstanding about their flawless track record.
Vision means the ability to see the future story of your company before it's been written.
A CEO with vision is one who can analyze market trends and potential niches, and sees where your company could fit in. The key to true vision is the ability to not only see what your company could grow to be, but to connect that vision to the everyday running of the company and figure out the tangible steps that need to be taken in order to get there.
How can you measure it?Ask about their vision for your company, paying attention to where they see you fitting into the current market. Then ask how they would devise a plan to get you there, and how they would implement it.
A CEO with character is one who has presence, who inspires those around them to confidence and trust in their leadership. Part of character is an ability to connect with people on all levels - colleagues should feel heard and valued.
On the flip side, another aspect of character is the ability to make the tough decisions, knowing they won't be popular with everyone. Strong personal ethics, integrity, and the ability to follow through on commitments all build a character that commands respect.
How can you measure it?Watch how they engage with everyone they meet during your interview time, and judge how people respond to them. Contact previous colleagues for an informal chat.
Something all successful entrepreneurs share is passion. It's what makes them get out of bed in the morning and tackle the working day with gusto, showing commitment to taking their company forward in a pro-active fashion.
When you're hiring a CEO, someone with passion is a must. A passionate CEO is one who not only has vision, but is determined to bring that vision to life. Passion is fuel to the fire, motivating not only your CEO, but everyone who works with them.
How can you measure it?Ask them about some of their favorite projects - and the ones they hated. Look for evidence of drive and commitment no matter what is going on around them.
A confident leader inspires confidence in the team around him, making it a must-have for any CEO you hire.
A confident CEO is one who has trust in their own abilities and skills, and is willing to rely on those skills and follow their gut without being swayed by popular opinion. However, confidence shouldn't be poisoned by arrogance.
A CEO who is confident in their abilities will be open minded and willing to consider and listen to others, before making a final, strong decision.
How can you measure it?Ask them about their strengths, weaknesses and abilities. Look for a healthy level of trust in what they can do, tempered by the humility to admit mistakes and take on board the views of trusted team members.
These intangible qualities are what set a CEO apart, differentiating the good CEOs from the great.
There isn't a benchmark you can use to measure wisdom, vision, character, passion and confidence, but with a sharp eye and a good ear you can pick up some valuable indicators of whether your CEO has the qualities to make them, and your company, stand out from the crowd.
About the Author: Tristan Anwyn is an author who writes on subjects as diverse as health, marketing, Reputation.com testimonials, and SEO.
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.