Essential Traits of A CEO to Battle the Recession and More Uncertainties Ahead

[Article by WiseNet Asia Knowledge Centre, re-printed with permission from Wesley Hui, Executive Director at WiseNet Asia Pte Ltd (a Corporate Service Provider of HR Guru Pte Ltd).]

Different schools of thought abound on the causes and consequences of a financial crisis, often a precursor for a recession.

With JPMorgan Chase speculating that the next recession will take place in 2020 – just two years from now – which may see stocks at a 20% decline and energy prices devalued by 35% according to analysts, it would be prudent for companies today to assess how best they can weather this slump to make a quick turnaround.

The CEO has a pivotal role in steering a company through such turbulent times. Faced with the challenges of predicting which parts of the business will be affected and identifying actions to secure the company in the best position possible, this CEO requires several key traits to succeed.

1. Visionary ability

Leaders need to be in touch with their capability for accurate long-term visioning. With rapid industrialization and global market volatility where anything can happen, it’s not always easy to spot who your future competitors are. They can be in the form of a new technology or a new merger, which can pose a fresh and unexpected threat to your business.

The unpredictable nature of such obstacles and changes would mean that past data becomes unhelpful or irrelevant to gauge future trends and sustainability metrics. Although past data can facilitate in the making of ongoing operational decisions, it does not guarantee that the company will sail smoothly through the face of instability in years to come. Swift changes in market dynamics paired with customer needs and demands require businesses to be equally swift – if not one step ahead – in response.

Being able to envision the future with innovations that revolve around customer lifestyles can provide a competitive advantage to help sustain against disruptions in the future.

2. Authority to execute

Leaders take full ownership of their vision. They act with purpose to make their ownership visible to everyone. They show confidence to drive and execute specific actions that target the business’ weak points. Doing so both benefits the company and creates inspiration for onlookers as the CEO’s every move is watched closely.

3. Undivided focus

A business leader will encounter many proposals and personal invitations for new ventures. Some of these may be tempting, enough to divert and shift major resources such as funds and key talents. It is an essential trait to stay focused and disciplined on the initial goal(s) where efforts have been made and value in, despite the attractive or lucrative deals that may be presented to you.

4. Genuine intention

Although it’s easy to get caught up in making profit a priority, a leader needs to counter this by doing things with heart. This means striking a balance by establishing responsible corporate practices without placing employee and societal interests at risk.

Leaders who care for the people are true leaders.

5. Flair for numbers

It may seem like a given but having a knack for numbers cannot be underestimated. This enables CEOs to make agile decisions, identify loopholes and make calculated risks. It also helps with assessing potential opportunities for the business.

Selecting the ideal CEO is no easy feat, as an individual’s strengths and weaknesses are not always readily visible. Having a checklist of essential traits will help companies make crucial decisions when hiring for this important role.

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