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The Qualities and Attributes of a Great CEO



The list of greatest CEOs in the world is impressive: Steve Jobs, Daniel Levy, Jim Sinegal, Fujio Mitarai, Laura Lang, Warren Buffett, and Lakshmi Mittal. These men and women all possess similar qualities and attributes that made them great CEOs. A great CEO is a leader, forward thinker, calculated risk taker, problem solver, optimist, and financially savvy.



A CEO needs great leadership ability. A leader should possess motivational and inspirational skills. Likewise, a leader needs a high level of emotional intelligence so that they can understand the needs, feelings, and desires of others. Leadership requires empathy, respect, and loyalty. The best leaders are human and relate to the workers within the company while simultaneously applying calculated pressure so that required tasks are completed quickly and efficiently.


Forward Thinking

A great CEO has tremendous foresight. The company should always be competing directly with rivals or leading the way towards new innovations in the industry. Without forward thinking, the company will always be trying to catch up with competitors. The CEO should be able to see far into the future and understand the approaching problems and complications within the industry. Foresight allows the company to plan ahead for the future and make adjustments before becoming outdated.


Calculated Risk Taking

Top CEOs understands calculated risk taking and are prepared to take chances. The CEO must first believe in a certain course of action even though the outcome is uncertain. Then the CEO must be able to take action despite the risks associated with that action. Great CEOs have trust in themselves and others. Calculated risk taking is less about chance and more about trusting in a vision and the skills of workers within the company.


Problem Solving

A great CEO has excellent critical thinking and problem solving skills. This means that the CEO is able to state and define problems, identify the relevant and applicable rules or laws, and then make correct assumptions about the problem. A good problem solver will simplify a problem, analyze multiple solutions, and compare and contrast potential courses of action. The best problem solvers also know how to think outside the box and create abstract or innovative solutions. CEOs are dealt hundreds of problems and must be able to handle problem solving in an efficient and skillful manner.



A great CEO is skeptical but not pessimistic. When a CEO only sees the negative attributes in a situation, the problems become more difficult to solve due to the poor attitudes of workers, missed opportunities, and negative quality of life within the company. An optimist is able to understand lessons from past mistakes while simultaneously realizing the future is a different opportunity for success than the past. Optimism is contagious, and a great CEO is able to motivate employees through an optimistic outlook.


Financial Savvy

A business needs to make money. Great CEOs need to understand money in a way that is more complex than simple accounting. The CEO must predict upcoming financial difficulties and create solutions for avoiding the problems. Likewise, the CEO must be able to secure financial funding, support, grants, and partnerships. Great CEOs understand all the available financial resources for the company and utilize these resources successfully.



A great CEO is a leader, forward thinker, calculated risk taker, problem solver, optimist, and financially savvy. These qualities and attributes are common amongst the greatest CEOs in the world but still necessary for success in the small business sector.

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