Four essential traits you need to be a CEO

To be a global chief executive there are four things that really matter, according to Beatrice Lafon, group CEO of jewellery retailer Claire’s.

Four things you need to be a CEO1. Belief

“Above all you need to have belief and courage because despite the fact you work as a team when it comes to decision time, the bottom line is you are on your own.

“You have to have strong inner belief and courage to make decisions and stick with them even when it appears you have made the wrong decision. I always remember being told that a good strategy is one you stick at long enough to make it work. I find that is often the case; I know what the right decision is but the team might not be ready for it and that is when you have to have the courage to go with it and stick with it.”

2. Vision

“You need to have the ability to design a vision and inspire people, coupled with good communication skills to bring it to life in a way that means something to the people you are working with.

“Employee satisfaction always comes down to the same three things: do I believe in the vision, do I believe in the management and leadership team to bring about that vision, and do I know what my contribution is and how I can make a difference to that vision? As CEO it is my job to drive and deliver those three aspects.”

Beatrice Lafon
Beatrice Lafon believes that while innovation has always been important, it has to happen now at a much faster pace to keep up with customers

3. Focus

“Focus is critical. You have to be organised and disciplined and have the ability to prioritise. You have to be able to make choices, so to deliver that you also need energy and stamina.

“It’s important to be relaxed because things go wrong, so you have to be willing to adapt and be flexible. Above all you have to learn not to stress – I don’t worry about things I can’t control.”

4. Diversity

“From a global point of view, you must also strive for diversity because people are both the same and very different. You have to appreciate and value those differences, so you must be sensitive. You have to feel them, see them and hear them. That’s not something you can learn in a textbook.”

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