LeaderWhile it may sound fancy, being a CEO is not easy. As the leader of your company, you’re expected to satisfy the needs and expectations of employees, customers, investors, communities, and more. To boot, you’re often solely responsible for moving the company forward and propelling growth and success. Talk about pressure!

As an entrepreneur myself, I know that it takes a lot of hard work, passion, and dedication to even get a business off the ground. Taking it to the next level is even harder. While there is no cookie-cutter recipe for what makes a great executive leader, in my experience, there are three key qualities every CEO must have to take their company — regardless of industry, size, or age — from “good” to “great.”

1. Vision

Leading a company is no different from leading a sports team. Every CEO needs to create the vision for the business — the vision that will excite and guide each employee. It’s this vision that will motivate every member of the company to do their best and make them feel part of something bigger.

While that vision may start off as a distant dream, it’s the cornerstone of innovation and direction. It serves to help every employee know your company goal and mission. CEOs should be able to define their visions and communicate them with the entire team, whether that means three employees or hundreds of employees.

When I first began my own business, I knew I wanted to make marketing accessible to business owners, both small and large. After working for years with clients who were tired of working with multiple vendors and using multiple reporting tools and platforms, I had a crazy idea of creating an all-in-one marketing dashboard capable of providing a business owner with a full snapshot of their marketing plan. Tired of using many third-party tools ourselves, we, too, wanted one tool that would help us provide customers with full insight into the performance of their marketing campaigns.

That became our vision and our mission: a fully transparent marketing all-in-one platform. At that point, it sounded like a wish more than anything else, but it was something I felt strongly about — and the team was excited about it.

ClayThe next question that came to mind was: “How in the world are we going to achieve this?”

2. Optimism 

You can’t be a great leader if you always see the glass as half empty. While there is nothing wrong with being realistic, a CEO needs to be an optimist at heart, one who can turn nonbelievers into believers almost by sheer force of will.

As a leader, it’s your optimism — the belief that things will get better, that things will work out — that motivates everyone to work hard, even when there are setbacks. Without optimism, your entire organization can unravel. Pessimism that starts at the top slowly trickles down and creates a fearful, unstable environment.

For my company, we needed to create a “yes-we-can” attitude about our distant all-in-one marketing dashboard. I knew it was going to take a lot of planning, a lot of patience, and a lot of money to create a tool that no one had really put together yet. The odds were stacked against us, but I had to motivate our team into believing that we could achieve our elusive dashboard.

After all, if I did not believe that we could do it, then no one else would either.

3. Guts

When the vision seems unattainable, you have to have the guts to move forward. You can’t let fear hold you back. There are countless stories of entrepreneurs who gave up every last penny to start their businesses, executives who made the riskiest investments to get their companies out of bankruptcy, and CEOs who decided on mergers or acquisitions to save their companies.

It’s this determination and courage that allows us to make some of the biggest and smartest decisions that catapult our companies from “good” to “great.” When faced with the realities of making my dream marketing dashboard come true, the financials, the timeframe. and the commitment seemed too risky to make the endeavor worthwhile. If the whole thing failed, I would have spent thousands of dollars for nothing. But deep down, I knew that this was something worth doing. So I marched onward, hoping for the best.

BuildingBeing in business is risky business. That means taking risks and making hard decisions, especially when everything and everyone is against you. Every great CEO began somewhere. No one is born a great leader. It’s these three qualities that we can’t forget, no matter how easy or hard things get. And it’s these same qualities that employees, investors, and customers expect at every stage.

The next time you’re stuck or facing a hard decision, remember that vision, optimism, and guts might be just what your business needs to get to the next level.

This article originally appeared on BusinessCollective.

As the founder and CEO of OneIMS and Clickx, Solomon Thimothy has built his career around his passion for helping other businesses grow their online presences and thrive in the digital world. Solomon works with clients big and small to develop uniquely customized and highly effective marketing strategies that meet every company’s individual goals. Follow him on Twitter: @sthimothy.



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