CEOs can be easy to overlook as players to pay attention to for practical purposes. They’re generally considered high above most of the considerations that go into modern businesses. The truth is that there’s a lot to be gleaned from them if you’re willing to pay close attention. The important thing to remember is that very few people start as a CEO, and no one starts there in life. Anyone who rises to that position had to get some experience and learn a few things from somewhere else first, and they tend to apply these to their position at the top.
The first reason to pay attention to them is their confidence. CEOs tend to be confident, if not charismatic. You can see this fairly plainly in interviews with CEO’s. Even if they don’t have the most compelling things to say, they assert themselves and speak confidently. This is a useful skill to have no matter where in a company you are. Pay attention to how they conduct themselves.
Next up is their command of finance. CEOs have a particular way with money that tends to earn them their positions. They all have different philosophies on how to balance risk and reward, and how to keep safely on the line between overly conservative and reckless strategies. They tend to reveal some of their position when they speak about investments they’ve made or risks they’ve taken, even if they don’t mean to.
Finally, it’s worth noting what they have to say because of their histories. Most CEOs will have stories about their success. CEOs come from all manner of background and opportunity, and very few achieve the position they do by the same means. When they talk about what made or broke their career at different junctures, pay attention. It isn’t likely that you’ll see the same situations in your own career, but it’s good to have a few frames of reference in mind. The next best thing to personal experience is an internalized record of someone else’s.
CEOs aren’t too lofty to learn from. It’s all a matter of paying attention and specifically looking for the information you can get use out of. When you remember that CEOs are people who are just like you, doing things that you either know how to do or can learn how to do throughout your career, they become much more accessible as role models and sources of useful information.