“So you want to be a CEO. Start Here”

The above is a title of a recent article in WSJ discussing some of the most important elements that aspirants must have to at least help (versus hinder) their efforts in eventually attaining that corner office (and keeping them there).

A lot of promising people fail to become a CEO because they have huge blind spots and lack corrective feedback from an internal mentor….

The discussion went on to point out that corporate boards are looking much more attentively at the “softer” skills like leadership ability and cultural fit.  I found it a little curious that (at least in this instance) someone viewed “leadership” as a “soft” skill. In my opinion, leadership is a way of being and it must be practiced every day as one’s leadership approach is constantly challenged with the diverse and ever-changing environment that businesses (of any sort) face.  This is what makes great leadership difficult.  It is precisely what any leader chooses to do in the face of adversities that defines their skill and level of “leadership”.  The quote above points to the fact that lack of corrective (and constructive I might add) feedback is a hinderance to any professional,  but I also firmly believe that in order to be a truly great leader that the notion of an “internal mentor” is also key to sustained successful leadership. It is not clear if the author intended for the words “internal mentor” to mean within one’s organization, company or circle of support or if they mean that an “internal mentor” truly is built and comes from within oneself.   I actually believe that you need both for truly sustained success as a leader and that there is an internal mentor that you create over the years of experience and you continue to add to the “mentors” intelligence with each new experience and lessons learned.

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