The Habits of Successful CEOs Revealed

If you’re tired of coding websites for a living, and have dreams of someday running your own corporation, you’re not alone. Most people would love to be a CEO.

Bill Gates

Bill Gates – photo credit: DFID – UK / Flickr

However, not just anybody can be a CEO, and not just any CEO can be successful. What is it about a successful CEO that stands him or her apart from others?

According to research by Russell Reynolds Associates, “willingness to take calculated risks” is a top attribute that leaders have and many non-leaders lack.

Bill Gates is the perfect example of this. Imagine if he didn’t decide to take a risk and drop out of college (Harvard of all places) to focus on developing Microsoft. Where would the world be today if Microsoft was never founded? Would programming and coding schools like Austin Coding Academy even exist?

Here are some more attributes and habits of the elite corporate leaders:

1. Getting up early

CEOs get up early – really early. It’s not uncommon for them to get up before sunrise. Some exercise and some check emails. Tim Armstrong does both. In a 2013 interview with The Guardian, he states that he “usually gets up at 5 or 5:15 am” and that part of his morning routine is to workout, read, use his products, and email. Michelle Gass, former Starbucks president turned Chief Merchandising and Customer Officer of Kohl’s, reportedly gets up at 4:30 am every morning and goes running (Forbes). These are just two examples of many CEO early birds, according to Business Insider.

2. Reading

The most successful leaders and entrepreneurs do a lot of reading – every single day. Bill Gates claims to read “50 books a year”. One of the many reasons why Oprah is so well-known and powerful is her book club. Mark Cuban states that part of his success was due to reading “every book and magazine I could”. It doesn’t matter what kind of industry you are involved in – if you want to be a CEO, you need to read a lot to stay on top of the game.

Jack Dorsey

Jack Dorsey – photo credit: Rory Cellan / Flickr

3. Staying organized

It helps to be good at organization if you want to be a great leader. After all, organization leads to productivity, and productivity leads to money and success. Co-founder of Twitter and CEO of Square Jack Dorsey has spoken about his “day themes” before. Monday, he focuses on “management and running the company”; Tuesday is “product focusing day”, Wednesday is for “marketing and communications and growth”, etc.

4. Meditating

The benefits of meditation are no secret, and many CEOs take full advantage of those benefits. It’s actually in the best interest of a company if the leader meditates on a regular basis, as calmness and focusing are two of its benefits. Russell Simmons (All Def Digital) wrote an interesting Huffington Post article titled “Why I Meditate”. In a 2011 Vogue feature, Arianna Huffington herself referred to yoga and meditation as two of her “joy triggers”.

In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, a best-selling self-help book by the late Stephen Covey, being “proactive” is the very first habit individuals should develop in order to evolve from dependence to independence. The book received a positive reception across the globe, and has been translated into 40 languages.


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