You might have watched a handful of CEOs in your time seemingly manage their companies behind the scenes without effort. If that’s the picture you have in your mind of how the life of a CEO runs, you probably also worry that you’re not one who fits the mold of that job description. You’re also probably wrong.
Successful CEOs are not born: they are self-taught. Each and every one of them learns, in their own way, how to become the tellers of their own success stories. You can learn to be a CEO, too. It’s as easy as reading a book or two (or five).
1. Pour Your Heart Into It by Howard Schultz, Starbucks
As a CEO, it is important to remember one thing: you are not just in charge of a business. You oversee both employees and customers of that business, both whom need to be happy with what they are given in order for your business to become and remain a success. Of all the examples of how this leadership philosophy plays out successfully in the real world, Starbucks is one of the best.
If you love Starbucks, you aren’t the only one. Starbucks employees love it, too. Starbucks Coffee Company’s CEO, Howard Schultz helped create a business known for its quality products and exceptional employee satisfaction. His book not only tells the story of how Starbucks came to be the successful coffee empire we know it as today, but also shows you how the CEO of such a successful endeavor views his business: as a means of giving people what they want, how they want it, the best that he can.
2. Raising the Bar by Gary Erickson, Clif Bar
Many professionals these days are too quick to criticize the idea that following your passion will eventually lead you to success. Aspiring business owners often mistakenly assume following your passion means doing what you want to do and giving up work. In reality, following your passion often involves making tough decisions, and deciding to work hard to turn your ideas into a successful business.
Gary Erickson has proven that in some cases, choosing passion over monetary success is worth the sacrifice. Erickson refused to sell his company for over a million dollars, and instead has created one of the most successful private companies in the United States. The inspiration for the Clif Bar, Inc. founder’s business philosophy came from his hobby of mountain biking. Who says following your passion won’t make you ultra-successful in the long run?
3. The Promise of a Pencil by Adam Braun, Pencils of Promise
Where do business ideas come from? Most of them stem from an unforgettable experience, one that presented a problem that has yet to be solved. Because businesses exist to solve specific issues different people around the world face, it takes someone with a lot of willpower to truly bring a business to life. This book will take you on a journey from struggling dreamer to successful doer, all while reading the personal account of how one man built a company on little more than an idea and a promise.
As Adam Braun tells the story of how he built his company, Pencils of Promise – starting with only $25, by the way – he gives useful tips for the steps aspiring CEOs can take to transform their lives into strategies and routines fit for a great leader. If one man can start a nonprofit that continuously changes the world on a daily basis, you can learn to be the CEO every organization needs.
4. The Charisma Myth by Olivia Fox Cabane
Has the fact that you are “not very charismatic” ever stopped you from trying to secure any kind of leadership position? What if you have a great idea for a business, but aren’t sure you could handle trying to manage other people? It may not be easy to influence and inspire other people, but whether you believe it or not, it is an essential piece of a CEO’s general job description. You can’t run a company without people, and you can’t manage people without a little charisma.
Olivia Fox Cabane’s book will show you something you never thought a book could show you: how to be more charismatic as a future CEO. Charisma isn’t necessarily something you are born with. If you do not think you have it, that does not mean you cannot learn to become an effective, influential leader. Every CEO has their own unique way of motivating the members of their company to drive organizations to success, and this is how you can discover yours.
5. The Effective Executive by Peter F. Drucker
Do you know how to be a leader – really? Being a CEO is about more than telling other people what to do from the comfort of your private office. As the leader of an entire company, it is the CEO’s job to set an example for everyone working below him or her in the organization. Aside from having a good attitude, a successful CEO needs to know the right ways to manage a business and the people in it. This is much easier to learn than it seems, it turns out.
This book by Peter F. Drucker will help you figure out how to succeed as a CEO, more than just by identifying what should and should not be done in terms of basic business strategies and tactics. There’s a strategy to mastering the executive role, and it probably isn’t what you are thinking. It involves a lot of time management, delegation and prioritizing: all things you have heard plenty of times before, but viewed through the lens of someone who understands what it really means to be in charge.
With the skills and strategies these authors will share with you in these worthwhile reads, you will finally have the knowledge and tools you will need to become the kind of CEO you have always wondered whether or not you could be. It is possible. You can build, motivate and influence. You just have to be willing to learn how.