Gini Dietrich

Two Qualities Every CEO Needs

By: Gini Dietrich | April 7, 2011 | 
109

It’s Facebook question of the week time! I always want to write “Clap! Clap! Clap!” when I say that. Kind of like I always want to say, “Hello. I’m Johnny Cash.” when I get in front of a microphone. But I never do because I’m afraid no one will get it and then I’ll have flopped before I even began.

Wow. That was quite a tangent. Note to self: Stop reading Nitty Griddy.

It is Facebook question of the week time and this week’s question comes from Ces Guerra. Ces is not only a good friend of mine, but also the author of Pill Pushers, which is on its way to the big screen. I’m including his question now, and putting it in writing, so that when he makes it big, he’s constantly reminded that I liked him way before he was a big deal. Well that, and, he says something incredibly kind about me in his question (which is very uncharacteristic).

He asks:

So, I’ve been around quite a few CEOs during the last week. I’ve observed Gini in her role as CEO of Arment Dietrich the past couple of years and appreciate her leadership, creativity and pursuit of excellence. And, because I respect Gini’s opinion so much, I was wondering what her thoughts are on the two most critical roles for a CEO or what two words she would use to describe the model CEO the best and why?

I give you my two qualities in the video below (if you can’t see it in your reader, click here and it’ll magically appear). But, because I’ve only worked for one CEO in my entire career, I’d love to hear your answers to Ces’s question. What are some of the good qualities of the CEOs you’ve worked for and what are some qualities you wish they had? And yes, my team can answer too because I’m curious to know what they’d like me to work on!

Oh, before you go, don’t forget to head over to the Arment Dietrich Facebook wall to ask a question you’d like highlighted here.

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

Spin Sucks in Your Inbox

Leave a Reply

109 Comments on "Two Qualities Every CEO Needs"

avatar

Sort by:   newest | oldest
Shonali
5 years 2 months ago

I agree, Gini. What I’d add – and this is fresh in my mind right now because of @GautamGhosh ‘s awesome “Dear CEO” letter over on my blog today – is empathy. It’s easy to get lonely at the top, as GG says, and have to bear a lot of weight. Being able to empathize with employees, those on the outside, etc., helps to put things in perspective, I think. And perspective is critical to success, IMHO.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 2 months ago

@Shonali @GautamGhosh Great one! It’s hard not to get sucked into your own day, your own mire. It’s REALLY important to be able to set the tone of the day for everyone…and then complain privately once you get home if your day was bad. Not that, uh, I’ve ever had to do that.

justinthesouth
5 years 2 months ago

“Hello. I’m Johnny Cash.” – ginidietrich

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 2 months ago

@justinthesouth LOL!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 2 months ago

@justinthesouth I KNOW you have qualities to add to this!

EricaAllison
5 years 2 months ago
Ok, before I even watch that clip, I’ve got to come down here and say HA, HA, HA, HA!!!!!! I love Johnny Cash and I would so get that. Here’s why: I lived in Mexico for about 5 months and taught children conversational English. Each morning, there was this outdoor assembly where a microphone was always front and center. And each morning, they wanted me to say or sing – yes sing something to the entire school. Each time, I wanted to pull a Wayne Newton and sing Danka Shang or finish with Thank you very much (Elvis style). So… Read more »
DannyBrown
5 years 2 months ago
Nice to see you separate the two types of CEO’s (entrepreneur/owner versus brought in). My belief? The CEO that’s brought in shouldn’t stay more than three years, tops. They’re brought in to do a job and guide a company in a certain direction. Once that’s done, they should move on before they get stale. A brought in CEO has no “investment” in your company, so make them like a really sharp consultant – come in, improve, job done. To constantly move forward, you have to keep abreast of different needs and practices, and one CEO that’s incumbent (if they’re not… Read more »
MarkCRobins
5 years 2 months ago
Great Post Gini and you are correct it is a tough question. As my experience as a CEO is a little different in that I was part of the building of the company before I came to work for LawyerLocate.ca Inc as it’s CEO. I think the founder and President Natalie Waddell would say my strength as the CEO of LawyerLocate.ca Inc is my vision of how to market our services and my almost “Preachy” belief in what we do. So in my humble opinion the qualities of Vision, Radical Belief and a Good Sense of humour will make for… Read more »
ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 2 months ago

@EricaAllison LOL! So my lesson is this: When I’m speaking to an audience with you, @justinthesouth and abbief , I will totally do it!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 2 months ago

@DannyBrown I really like this thinking! Kind of like (most) politicians – you have a term limit. I have to think about that from an entrepreneur’s perspective, though. If I brought in a professional CEO or COO, would I really want to retrain every three years? Sounds exhausting. But I do agree with the idea that new blood and fresh ideas likely matter more.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 2 months ago

@MarkCRobins Good sense of humor is SO important! I would never want to work for a CEO that was dull and boring.

justinthesouth
5 years 2 months ago

@ginidietrich @EricaAllison abbief Deal! Lets make that happen real soon. Abbie is headed this way later this summer so, Gini why don’t you come to NC. You can cycle in the mountains and make this happen.

Lisa Gerber
Lisa Gerber
5 years 2 months ago

First, I would pay twice the amount of admission to have you come out deadpan and say , “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash.”

Second, The quality I would add: a desire to mentor your rising stars. Assuming the CEO has great vision and is someone whom employees admire, this creates a very inspiring and motivating workplace.

Lisa Gerber
Lisa Gerber
5 years 2 months ago

@justinthesouth @ginidietrich @EricaAllison abbief oh count me in too.

justinthesouth
5 years 2 months ago

@Lisa Gerber @ginidietrich @EricaAllison abbief It is sounding more and more like a fun time!

Sean McGinnis
5 years 2 months ago
I agree with @Lisa Gerber . Her comment hits me square in the head. Talent development is an underutilized art form that often takes a back seat to other competing priorities in most companies. I would like to add one additional quality to the mix. The CEO must be a great communicator. Communicating the vision consistently to the organization is so important. I’m not thinking about the “great communicators” as most people think of them, the ones that are great public speakers, for example. Instead, I’m thinking of CEO’s that know exactly the tone and frequency of their communications. It… Read more »
NancyD68
NancyD68
5 years 2 months ago
A good CEO can inspire you to want to be better, but a GREAT CEO makes you better by teaching you or making you think differently. Being challenged to look at things in a different way makes everyone better. Sadly, most bosses and many CEO’s want to rule by fear. This is a real shame, and is not how you keep your good employees. There is no worse feeling than working for someone who is a raving lunatic. I have worked for a few of them, and no more. Sense of humor is also a must. If you can’t laugh,… Read more »
hackmanj
5 years 2 months ago

I was taught that using humor immediately is risky when you speak publicly, but I guess it really depends on the audience. 🙂

I think the most important role of a CEO is to inspire others to action. They should do this internally and externally for the companies they lead.

Marcus_Sheridan
5 years 2 months ago

Vision….Yeah, I’m feeling that. I’d add a little to it by saying great CEOs see and instill the vision in good times AND the bad. I’ve seen some pretty visionary dudes and dudettes fold up when the going got tough. At the same rate, I’ve seen others become more valient then ever when the stuff hit the fan. Just my thoughts….

Btw Gini, that first paragraph was quite the ‘Griddy’ prose…and gave me a good snicker 😉

Well done gal,

Marcus

jackielamp
jackielamp
5 years 2 months ago
“Looks like you’re going to a funeral”….”Maybe I am” (I heart the Johnny Cash reference) As a young person, I don’t really know the first thing about being a CEO. However, at one point in time my dad was a CEO and I remember employees at the company literally crying when he finally made the decision to leave. And I thought to myself: How did he do it? How did he manage to successfully lead a company (from a business standpoint), build relationships with employees while maintaining boundaries, and earn the respect of 300 people? Then I realized what “quality”… Read more »
ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 2 months ago

@Lisa Gerber Well you may see it because the urge is OVERWHELMING. But only when a stand-up mic is in front of me. I don’t have the same urge with a pin-on mic. Maybe they’ll have a stand-up mic at PRSA when I speak in a couple of weeks. If they do, you can bet I’ll do it!

Too bad we don’t have any rising stars. HAHAHAHAHA!! Totally agree with that. I hope I do a great job of that with @MolliMegasko

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 2 months ago

@Sean McGinnis “Communication is what the listener does.” I LOVE that! If that’s true, I’m a GREAT communicator. I’d much rather listen than talk.

But I really, really, really wish it’d been me to hit you square in the head, though my inclination is usually to kick you in the shins.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 2 months ago

@NancyD68 “If you can’t laugh, especially at yourself, you are screwed.” I think this is one of the most important points made. It is so true! I’m very self-deprecating and we have a culture where we tease one another. I also think it’s great fun when my team makes fun of me publicly. It’s really important to allow people the freedom to engage their leaders in a very human way.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 2 months ago

@hackmanj Why do you think I’ve never done it?!! But, if you’re going to do it, you can’t really use that line in the middle or at the end. It HAS to be at the beginning.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 2 months ago

@Marcus_Sheridan Interesting you say that about leaders who fold when the times get rough. I guess that’s when you really know if they’re cut out to lead, huh?

I wrote that first paragraph and my first thought was, “Griddy is rubbing off on me!”

DannyBrown
5 years 2 months ago

@ginidietrich I guess it depends on whether you want your business to be stale after three years, or keep in front of the game. And how much that’s worth (financially and time-wise). 😉

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 2 months ago
@jackielamp When Mr. D and I were dating, I started to notice something he does: He looks everyone in the eye when he speaks to them. From the busboy to the owner of a restaurant. He treats every human being the same. It’s a quality I didn’t have at the time, but definitely have learned from him. In fact, now he makes fun of me that I take the time to respond to everyone. It sounds like that’s the quality your dad has…and it doesn’t come across as biased at all because you’re right. When you treat people like humans… Read more »
ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 2 months ago

@justinthesouth @Lisa Gerber @EricaAllison abbief Or, Justin, you can come to Vegas where we’ll all be.

Marcus_Sheridan
5 years 2 months ago

@ginidietrich @DannyBrown Amen to term limits, as you aptly put it Gini. There is so much staleness in Washington I can smell the stinch from here in the backwoods of Va….The same applies to CEOs, which is why I thought your comment was spot-on Danny.

Mywritingworld
Mywritingworld
5 years 2 months ago
Qualities of a CEO’s are easily determined with their position. The term CEO stands for, an executive with the chief decision making authority in an organization or business. Generally a CEO that is liked by majority of the people in his/her administration if the CEO cares for the majority of people in decision making. But because of the responsibility of being a CEO, it is very hard to be like by many people in the organization. As a CEO makes decisions based on the percentage of the profits and not people’s opinion. So I will say as a career goal… Read more »
DannyBrown
5 years 2 months ago

@Marcus_Sheridan @ginidietrich A certain Santa tells me you have a very Southern twang, mate – look forward to hearing it.

By the way, BlogWorld submissions until April 10 – get your ass on it. 😉

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 2 months ago

@DannyBrown @Marcus_Sheridan I think he did submit, did you not, Marcus??

KenMueller
KenMueller
5 years 2 months ago
If you ever come and speak some place for me, you better start off with the Johnny Cash line. I’m a huge fan and any friends of mine would get it. big time. CEO qualities – and I say this more from the perspective of having worked for some horrible leaders. Not necessarily the top two, and they fit in with yours a bit would be things like: a) a team player – they always want to hire team players, but often that means they want “yes”-men and women, rather than those who truly are out for the good of… Read more »
Sean McGinnis
5 years 2 months ago

@ginidietrich @jackielamp The best communicators make you feel like you’re the complete object of their affection and attention for those few minutes (something I desperately need to work on). Word on the street is Bill Clinton was (and is) an absolute master of this.

T60Productions
5 years 2 months ago

Hi Gini… I think another thing a great CEO has is the uncanny ability to know when employees could use a little reward, or when they need a kick in the butt… and they always seem to know the right way of doing each.

My two cents… it’s hard to go wrong by rewarding your employees with a good lunch. My stomach will follow that leader. 🙂

–Tony Gnau

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 2 months ago

@Sean McGinnis @jackielamp He is the master at it. But, I have a picture with him and the first thing my mom said was, “Look how tight he’s holding you!” Oy.

Sean McGinnis
5 years 2 months ago
@ginidietrich “Communication is what the listener does” is actually a riff on a Drucker concept, but I agree with it completely. What most people consider to be “great communicators” often-times actually are not – but they appear to be. If we measured what the lister heard and understand and compared that to what the communicator INTENDED them to hear, there might often be gaps. By turning the act of communication on its head, the emphasis is placed where it belongs. It ensure we are checking for clarity and understanding. Too often we look to “talkers” and label them as great… Read more »
ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 2 months ago

@Sean McGinnis I think the saying goes that when you ask people about themselves and listen to what they have to say, they think you’re the most brilliant person they’ve ever met.

Narciso17
Narciso17
5 years 2 months ago
As You May Know, Gini, One of the Biggest things I *Love* (Aside From Writing in Small Caps) is Tieing In a Point By Using Music…! So, Using the Johnny Cash Reference Got My Ears Perked Up…!…Very Well Done 🙂 An Important Trait that Every CEO (or Leader) Should Have is the Ability to Not Take Themselves So Seriously. There Are Soo Many Variables and Factors That Play Into an Organization’s Bottom Line – Having a BIG EGO Only Gets in The Way. It Keeps Leaders From (Among Other Things) + Being Nimble + Thinking Outside of Their ‘Great Ideas’… Read more »
Sean McGinnis
5 years 2 months ago

@ginidietrich Thank must be why I like you so much…..I can think of no other reason. 😉

AbbieF
AbbieF
5 years 2 months ago

Ha! I always want to sing “Feelings” when I step up to a mic.

I agree with your two points and would add empathy and good-listener – I think the entrepreneurial CEO may have an easier time with these as he/she has likely needed their boss to empathize with the team and listen to those in the company in order to succeed. My hope is that those are among the traits that the CEO appreciated on the way up and will be the type of CEO that offers that to his/her organization when in the lead position.

KarenBice
KarenBice
5 years 2 months ago

HI Gini, good post and video. I’ve worked for and interacted with a few CEO’s. IMO, the CEOs who are successful are those who are able to see beyond their title and position. The qualities that I most appreciate in a CEO, or any leader, are courtesy, communication skills and humor. I’ve worked for leaders who have all three qualities, and I’ve worked for leaders without all three. You can guess which group I prefer to work for…

Lisa Gerber
Lisa Gerber
5 years 2 months ago

@AbbieF ok, i would pay triple admission for THAT!!! please oh please do that at CAPRSA!!!!!

jackielamp
jackielamp
5 years 2 months ago

@ginidietrich @Sean McGinnis Word on the street is that Bill goes a little too far in making people the “object of his affection”

(sorry couldn’t resist)

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 2 months ago

@Sean McGinnis I think it was because I let you laugh until you cried at my expense!

NancyD68
NancyD68
5 years 2 months ago

@jackielamp @ginidietrich @Sean McGinnis As long as we keep him away from the cigars, we should all be safe. (couldn’t resist that)

lgdrew
5 years 2 months ago

Taking your point of leading people toward a vision a step further, I think CEOs should not only lead towards a vision but believe in the vision themselves; they should have integrity. <–One reason why I love coming here!

I’d say self-awareness is also really important. Too often people people take themselves or their roles too seriously. I’ve had bosses take jokes too far (even in front of clients) that I couldn’t even make fun of myself. Laugh and learn though, I don’t get into those situations anymore (at least with those people).

bdorman264
bdorman264
5 years 2 months ago
I had to chuckle about the Johnny Cash reference because in the right company I will do that line. It stems from me getting talked into a karaoke fund raiser and the only song I was comfortable with was Johnny Cash’s ‘I Walk the Line’. I chose that because I didn’t really have to carry a tune. In my effort to maintain a certain level of ‘coolness’ whatever points I have built up would rapidly be taken away if you heard me sing. Talk, anywhere…anytime; sing, only in my car and shower. Only you get to see my dorkiness, I… Read more »
TroyClaus
TroyClaus
5 years 2 months ago

Great video Gini.

I agree that having a purposeful vision is very important, however, I also think one of the keys to being a great leader is being resourceful.

In many instances we are faced with challenges that can be very difficult to make, being resourceful enough to find the answers to the root cause of these problems is incredibly important.

We also need to remember that when looking to solve these problems, it’s never a case of a lack of resources, it’s a lack of resourcefulness, so dig deeper 🙂

Cheers Gini,

Troy

Shonali
5 years 2 months ago

@ginidietrich @Lisa Gerber @AbbieF Since we’re sharing what we’d like to do when we step up to the mic (remember that song, btw?)… I’ve always wanted to do a PR presentation that really ROCKS. Like with sound, music, lights, etc. It’s the actress in me that won’t die. Anyone up for that?

wpDiscuz
[postmatic_subscribe_widget]