A good analogy for a CEO is that of a diamond: all are judged by their quality, all are shaped under extreme pressure, and all are flawed to a degree. The four Cs of diamonds are Carat, Cut, Color, and Clarity. On that basis, let’s take a look at what the four Cs of CEOs are, as described by Mark Stiffler.
A CEO has to work hard at building credibility and, if they ever lose it, they will never regain it. CEOs build credibility by telling the truth 100% of the time. What this does mean is that they also have to be the bringer of bad news from time to time. Sharing the positive is easy, but only by also being 100% honest about the negatives can a CEO build true credibility.
A CEO may be credible, they are not necessarily competent. You may, for instance, be completely truthful, but still be ill informed, make poor judgements, or just be plain wrong. A CEO has to demonstrate that they truly understand the business model of their company, a willingness to embrace change, and a desire to always learn. Additionally, they must have a full understand of their own role.
A CEO has to deliver a message, but they also have to be believable as a messenger. They may be credible and competent, if they don’t care about their people, their organization, their products, and/or their services, they will not become a good CEO. It takes a long time to prove to others that they are caring and, as with everything in the role of a CEO, it takes just a single slip up for people to think the care is gone. CEOs have to uphold themselves to the same standards as their other members of staff. It can be very difficult for a CEO to come across as caring, however, because they often have to make some very tough decisions. Finding a balance between caring about the employee and caring about the company can be incredibly complex.
Compassion is perhaps the most difficult attribute to develop for a CEO, not in the least because of the difficulty of the aforementioned balance between caring about employees and putting the organization first. A CEO must show compassion and understanding, but they have to be the boss at the same time. A CEO demonstrates compassion by putting their own needs last. It is impossible to maintain an organization without putting its people first, as they are a company’s most important resource. The needs of the CEO come last in that order. They have to be in first and leave last, and they have to face every crisis head on and assume it as of their own doing.
Just like a diamond, the more a CEO fails on one of the four Cs, the less valuable and desirable they will be. Getting these four things right, however, makes for a very strong leader.