Inside the mindset of a CEO

CEOs know the greatest risk is doing nothing and the real security comes from constantly testing you're potential. [iStockphoto]

The question that most business people would like answered is what makes a rockstar CEO?

In short, it's someone who takes action and is in the arena risking failing or being foolish. He or she is busy executing rather than procrastinating or reviewing reasons why action should not be taken.

They know the greatest risk is doing nothing and the real security comes from constantly testing you're potential.

  1. Personality

A recent study on what success looks like reveals the four most important traits of a successful CEO.

These include using common sense or the ability to simplify complex projects by getting right into the core of what really matters, second is knowing your field - both through hands-on experience and the counsel of other people.

The third is self-reliance which means more than just feeling good about yourself. It means taking definitive action to get things moving forward in your life and finally risking criticism or failure by acting on your dreams, no matter how outlandish they may seem to others around you.

  1. Imagination

Renowned self-help author Napoleon Hill once said, "imagination rules the world" and Albert Einstein believed that imagination is more important than knowledge because knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand while imagination embraces the entire world.

A human being is blessed with creative imagination, and therefore healthy role models and strong support superimposed upon strong moral values are so important. We need dreams, images, maps, and charts to guide us. Successful CEOs use these charts and maps to model values and self-image.

This mental picture of self when nourished and cultivated is the primary field in which happiness and success grow and flourish. But the same mental concept when under-nourished or neglected becomes a recipe for low achievement, deviant behaviour and unhappiness.

  1. Self-appraising

A successful CEO mindset is mostly self-appraising, and they know they can do things pretty well. They can try new challenges and win and when things don't go smoothly at first, they keep trying or get more information to implement in a different way until it works out right. These CEOs are the few who can learn and do learn the most and who can share and give the most to others, from what they learned. They have discovered that their imagination serves as a governing device, for if they cannot see themselves achieving something then literally, they cannot do it.

  1. Repeated rituals

Winners believe in their dreams. Your mind stores the reality of what you repeatedly imagine.

Research by Stanford University reveals that what we pay attention to or watch on the screens has a major effect on our imagination and our learning patterns, including our behaviour.

Most CEOs have learned the power of rituals which is any mindful repeated action which makes them more intentional and it puts the brain in a desired state. Repeating ritual offer focus to the task at hand and helps in tuning to the present moment.

  1. Creativity

Creativity is seeing in advance an idea that can become a solution to a major problem or need and holding onto that idea until it works or until a better idea is implemented.

Creativity is holding on to your dreams even when others laugh at you. Creativity comes on when you embrace mentors and coaches who are interested in your success. Coaches who will listen unconditionally, who praise often and criticise constructively the behaviour that is undesirable, while not directly criticising the individual. Creativity is having curious leaders who are open to new ideas and better ways of doing things and who are not so set in their ways that they prejudice and pre-judge everything in advance. Creative people say it may be difficult but it's always possible.

  1. Integrity

As a CEO, stand up for truth even when under pressure, give others the credit when due and be real and genuine.

One of the principles of integrity is to defend your convictions in the face of great social pressure. The second key principle of integrity is to give others credit that is rightfully theirs never fearing anyone who has a better idea or who is smarter than you. If as a CEO you hire people bigger than you are, then you are bound to become a company of giants.

The third integrity principle is being honest and open about who you really are. Be genuine. Don't exaggerate your achievements, and don't get trapped in a cover-up of past mistakes, even personal traits that dissatisfy or displease you.

When the going gets tough, be tough too by facing the reality with well throughout responses. Use the good and the bad as material for personal growth.

Integrity strengthens inner value systems. It is the real human bottomline. As a CEO, commit to a lifetime of integrity in every situation that comes your way. You must always remember honesty and integrity are non-situational, they are an inner standard for your performance.

-The author is a Senior Budget Officer at the African Development Bank and the author of Unlock Your Body Budget.