Would You Make a Good CEO? Some Questions to Ask

By AAPL Staff
September 7, 2018

What's the rubric for your organization’s highest position? Are you on the right track?  There’s no one-size-fits-all blueprint, but you can see if you're growing in the right direction. 

THE CHALLENGE: Are you ready for a position in the C-suite? Maybe. Many chief medical officers got that executive role by leveraging the medical experience and problem-solving ability they developed as physicians.

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But what about the CEO role? What is the rubric for your organization’s highest position? How do you know if you’re on the right track? What sets great CEOs apart from the good ones? And what sets good CEOs apart?

There’s no one-size-fits-all blueprint for leading a company. Every organization is different, and every CEO is different, too. But there are some questions you can ask to make sure you’re growing in the right direction.

ARE YOU A GOOD STRATEGIST?

How do you measure your strategic acumen? There’s more to it than having clear vision and foresight. The best strategists measure their success in two ways:

  • The ability to engage other people in their organizations.
  • The clarity with which they articulate the company’s evolving future.

DO YOU UNDERSTAND OPERATIONS?

If strategy is about seeing (and communicating) the future, then operations is about understanding the present. A CEO won’t need to manage day-to-day operations directly, but he or she needs to understand how those operations carry the business closer to its goals.

DO YOU POSITIVELY INFLUENCE THE CULTURE?

CEOs are hired for their experience, their acumen, their vision and their ability to communicate … but almost all of those attributes take a back seat to culture. Many organizations hire CEOs based on the candidate’s cultural fit (or the candidate’s ability to improve the existing culture), because business history is filled with strong, experienced leaders who failed to align with the personality of their organizations.

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CAN YOU BUILD A FOLLOWING?

A leader can’t lead if no one will follow. That’s why strong CEOs can inspire and motivate the people they work with. This means:

  • Communicating often.
  • Setting a clear vision.
  • Giving every employee a sense of purpose.
  • Making individuals feel they are integral to the organization’s mission.

DO YOU SHOW STRETCH POTENTIAL?

Organizations are always changing and evolving. That’s why long-tenured leaders are those who can adapt to changes such as market shifts, employee turnover, budget cuts and customer expectations. Such adaptability is a hurdle for many leaders, because it requires strong critical thinking skills, a tolerance for ambiguity and a high level of social and emotional intelligence. 

Adapted from The Numbers a CEO Needs to Know, part of the American Association for Physician Leadership’s comprehensive online curriculum. Learn more about AAPL's  educational offerings and credentials at physicianleaders.org/education.

Topics: Journal Leadership

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