What Makes a CEO an Elite Performer?

There is a clear distinction between someone who is a good leader and one who leads with and inspires elite performance. Since the tone of the workplace is set from the top, it’s important that CEOs constantly strive towards elite status. The future of the company, and the families they lead, depend on an unending pursuit of what’s next and how to reinvent the methods to get there. Elite performance is often translated into just excelling at your job or generating success. This is a half-truth.

There is a clear distinction between someone who is a good leader and one who leads with and inspires elite performance. Since the tone of the workplace is set from the top, it’s important that CEOs constantly strive towards elite status. The future of the company, and the families they lead, depend on an unending pursuit of what’s next and how to reinvent the methods to get there. Elite performance is often translated into just excelling at your job or generating success. This is a half-truth.

In today’s Insight, we’ll discover what makes a CEO capable of elite performance, as well as the pitfalls that tilt leaders in the opposite direction.

As a reader, we hope this inspires you to get curious about the kind of leader you are, and more importantly, the leader you want to become. We’ve seen many CEOs strive to transform themselves through personal will and grit. They make great strides but sacrifice the speed and magnitude of their transformation. With that in mind, we’ll describe how Transcend’s executive coaching can accelerate you towards becoming the Elite CEO you dreamed of being.

What is an Elite CEO?

Elite CEOs lead the business of today while actively building the business of the future. They are crystal clear in their executive identity and masterfully operate honed processes that drive innovation and inspire the vision across the company. Their consistent level of engagement in the business sets the cadence for the organization, and the majority of their time is spent driving alignment to the vision, inspiring talent, and empowering executives to lead the business forward as an enterprise team. 

Elite CEOs lead the business of today while actively building the business of the future. They are crystal clear in their executive identity and masterfully operate honed processes that drive innovation and inspire the vision across the company. Their consistent level of engagement in the business sets the cadence for the organization, and the majority of their time is spent driving alignment to the vision, inspiring talent, and empowering executives to lead the business forward as an enterprise team. 

A business dependent on the CEO for day-to-day decisions is too slow to compete. Elite CEOs strive to surround themselves with talented people who can collectively execute today’s growth and support the building of the next evolution.

In point, executives with the most clarity, vision, engagement, and innovative executive process reside in the elite CEO chair.

An elite CEO actively resources themselves to have the bandwidth for what matters most to the long-term business. They are keenly focused on delivering the activities that only the CEO can deliver and effectively embed other important challenges into the hands of their executives and high potentials. The talent development of their executive team is a cornerstone of their focus. They firmly believe in the correlation between business growth and executive team evolution. Even their own evolution is resourced and intentional to ensure their personal innovation leads to executive team evolution.

Beyond the company, an elite CEO views themselves like an elite athlete. Leadership is demanding, and it requires repair, conditioning, and personal planning to remain vital and vibrant. Having a regimen to keep themselves steady, de-stressed, healthy, and mindful is a key strategy of elite performers. Additionally, they deeply invest in personal relationships that provide a reprieve from the demands of executive leadership. 

Beyond the company, an elite CEO views themselves like an elite athlete. Leadership is demanding, and it requires repair, conditioning, and personal planning to remain vital and vibrant. Having a regimen to keep themselves steady, de-stressed, healthy, and mindful is a key strategy of elite performers. Additionally, they deeply invest in personal relationships that provide a reprieve from the demands of executive leadership. 

Having open and connected relationships at home allows for taking off the executive armor and secures a sanctuary for reflection, engagement, and joy. While rejuvenation is under-prioritized for many executives, elite CEOs embrace activities that keep them thinking, feeling, playing, and learning. Believe it or not, this is one of their top strategies for ensuring the ultimate competitive advantage.

Does this sound too good to be true? For most CEOs, it is until they make critical decisions about their role and the influence they should ultimately have in the long-term performance of the company. The critical reflection is do they want to lead a company inspired by the CEO or dependent on the CEO? The former answer to this question leads to a host of decisions that the most elite CEOs previously embraced with rigor and determination.

Now, how does one transform from a successful CEO to an elite CEO?

Executive transformation entails the reinvention of mindsets, strategies, and processes within one cohesive journey.

Executive transformation is more than a one-time investment, it’s a way of being. True elevation avoids short-term changes for short-term growth and embraces critical paradigm shifts in several areas. Here are just eight examples of what your next CEO elevation can entail.

  • Double, even triple, down on crystalizing the company vision and the strategic process that brings it to life. A CEO without 100 percent conviction for the direction and how to get there is a catalyst for uncertainty throughout the organization. The vision and the strategic process are your CEO platform for impact and influence. It can even become the CEO’s platform to drive employee engagement.
  • Redefine your role and organizational engagement at regular intervals. Businesses evolve, and the CEO’s focus needs to stay ahead of the game. Never let the business outpace the evolution of your role. If it does, the business will stall.
  • Clarify your strengths and quickly fall in love with your weaknesses. Elite performers know what they do best and quickly resource exceptional expertise around them in areas of weakness. Most CEOs are slow in assembling or developing the expertise that is capable of leading the business of tomorrow while growing the business of today, elite CEOs are not.
  • Eagerly raise the bar on your executive accountability and rigor. Redefine your accountability to maintain a laser focus on the right things and amplify your rigor in delivering the resources and processes that unlock you from fire drills to accelerate business performance.
  • Develop cornerstones for your executive cadence that you continuously live by. Leverage your scheduling to ensure you are spending precious hours planning for the future, cascading messaging across the organization, spurring innovation through debriefing sessions, and being a voice within your industry. Intentionally prepare Sunday night to deliver maximum impact during the week ahead and then grade yourself on Friday. Was 90% of your delivery squarely in the CEO seat? If not, understand why and then go solve for it.
  • Unlock your bandwidth by redefining the executive’s view of how they add value and their role. They are enterprise leaders first who then lead a center of excellence. They collectively own outcomes for the entire enterprise and should actively solve enterprise challenges as a collaborative unit. They don’t teach how to build this kind of team in business school. Resource yourself with coaches and advisors who can help you build this dynamic and embed the tools to bring it to life.
  • Develop a robust data focus across the business and ensure you have real-time dashboards highlighting key indicators of business that determine success and challenge. Ask yourself: Does your data access allow you to see what’s happening in the business when you’re not even there? Do you have confidence that the data you are tracking highlights the key metrics that ensure success? Is your data focused on leading indicators or do lagging indicators, like a previous month or quarterly performance numbers, overwhelm the dashboard?
  • Become keenly aware of your employee engagement and customer net promoter scores. These two items are linked in research and are absolutely linked within your bottom line. Every elite CEO strives to become a great place to work, and they resource this initiative with intentionality. Winning the talent, competition, and market capture war occurs on this battlefield. These two measures tell the vitality story of your business. Would you post them publicly with pride? If not, let’s get to work!

As you can see, elite CEO performance is about your mindsets, processes, focus, and innovative approaches that spur change.

It entails moving away from a static leadership paradigm into a dynamic CEO growth paradigm, where you respond today to the changing landscapes of tomorrow.

Transcend wants to accelerate your elite CEO story. Our executive coaching aims to transform your approach in order to transform the company you lead. We invite you to discover our differentiated approach to executive coaching and learn how we ensure a successful path towards elite CEO performance. 

Connect with us at www.transcendbusiness.com to begin building your next evolution.

Craig Wiley

Craig Wiley

Senior Executive Coach

My purpose is to multiply the potential within each person I have the opportunity to connect with, and coaching provides the necessary platform to achieve this. I will actively guide your prioritization of efforts and help you embrace the tough decisions that unlock your next level of performance and crystalize your pinnacle of success.

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