We have been fortunate over the years to work with some of the best leaders in the country – each of them bringing something unique to the business world – and watch up-close the important contribution of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

Last week I was quizzed about the behaviours linked to the role of the CEO. Are the behaviours for other leaders the same for the CEO? What is specifically different about the CEO role? What is the role of the high-performing CEO?

Part of the answer lies in the leadership title.

Chief – meaning the most important role in the organisation and their ability to take and accept total responsibility for the running of the organisation.

The buck stops with them.

They understand their role and they embrace it.

Many CEO’s are founders of their own company, others have been appointed to take up the role. But in each case they know that the performance of the company lies with the direction they set and the way in which they lead others.

High-performing client CEO’s appear more confident, self assured and ambitious in all aspects of their role as the leader of the organisation.

This then links to the ‘Executive’ element – meaning the recruitment, selection and management of the key members of their board.

Founders can find it difficult to carry out this function.

It is quite common to hear examples where the personality of a founder gets in the way of hiring the right people.

This happens less in corporate companies or in organisations where the founder no longer has a significant role to play in the business.

High-performing client CEO’s have an uncanny knack – even a sixth sense – of seeking out and hiring the very best people needed to help them secure success and growth for their company.

They are great at spotting talent.

Officer applies to their role in guiding the senior team in the appointment of other managers, supervisors, team leaders – in effect the middle level of people  tasked with driving the systems, processes and activities required to guarantee operational effectiveness.

High-performing CEO’s are able to clearly articulate the standards expected of their middle management and supervisory teams.

They recognise that these groups manage more people in the workplace than any other leadership group and time spent developing them is time well spent.

But there’s more to it than that.

High-performing CEO’s excel in three key areas

1. Communication

2. Energy

3. Ownership

The ability to communicate clearly their thoughts, ambitions, aspirations and expectations to other colleagues separates high-performing CEO’s from others.

Meetings, telephone calls, coaching sessions, company-wide presentations and nowadays the use of social media are seen as priority areas of focus for them.

They recognise the importance of sharing knowledge and the implications for their business if the right information is not passed on effectively to others.

High-performing CEO’s have an abundance of energy and understand how to use it to their advantage.

They recognise the power of utilising energy in the workplace, how to develop and sustain momentum within the workforce and more importantly how energy can be transmitted to others.

They know how to get the best out of their day – time management is critical to their success – and they also recognise that leading by example as Chief Energy Officer will get the best out of others.

Ownership plays an important part in the thinking and working of a high-performing CEO.

Communication and energy combine to support an ‘accountability’ culture within their organisation.

Empowerment is important to their long term success and they will do everything in their power to instil confidence in their people.

Ownership I believe is the holy grail of leadership.

High performing CEO’s understand this better than others.


The high-performing CEO has the ability to utilise their personal talent and ability across other organisations, sectors and markets.

With high levels of confidence, drive, knowledge and skills they can easily operate in private and public sector organisations.

This means of course that they are often head hunted or they may wish to seek new challenges elsewhere.

The high performing CEO is a joy to work with and for.

They are a rare breed. They are prized assets. If you have one in your organisation, be thankful.

Nothing lasts forever and in time they may move on.

On the business growth journey, high performing leaders create high performing organisations managed by high performing managers supported by high performing employees.

Best wishes on your journey, wherever it may take you.