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Discovering The Habits Of Well-Regarded CEOs

If you're the leader of a small business, you may not think of yourself as a CEO. but you probably should. You are the face your company presents to the world as much as Bill Gates is at Microsoft Corp. and Jack Welch is at General Electric Co.

You may not be as visible as such famous CEOs, of course, but you may loom as large in your own community-or even just your own neighborhood as a Gates or a Welch does in the world at large.
"There's no such thing as a stealth CEO," Thomas D. Bell Jr., CEO of New York City-based Young & Rubicam Advertising, told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's board of directors recently.



What does being a well-regarded CEO involve? To find out, the Burson-Marsteller public-relations firm-a Young & Rubicamowned company that Bell headed until last year-surveyed 2,600 "influential stakeholders," ranging from financial analysts to government officials, for a 1997 study.
What emerged from the study, Bell says, were the seven habits of highly regarded CEOs'--that is, "what the research says it takes to really make a difference as a chief executive officer impacting your company's reputation."

They are: Being believable. People will remember what you say, Bell says, so be careful what you say-and tell the truth. Having a vision. "Planning to stay out [front) in the future, driving your organization, leading your organization toward that vision, is perhaps the single most powerful thing" a CEO can do, Bell says.

Leading a great senior team. You want your company to survive you, so nurture strong leaders within the company who can step into your shoes.
Understanding global markets. Even for large companies, Bell says, "this wouldn't even have been on the list three or four years ago." But now, "the world is our marketplace."

Embracing change. The accelerating pace of technological change, Bell says, means that companies must be prepared to go in a new direction almost overnight.


Loving your customers. This was rated most important in the survey. Since it works so well," he asks, "why do we so infrequently embrace as the core of our focus, as the center of our bull's-eye, pleasing our customers?"

Communicating. Tell people--customers, employees, and anyone else who should know-what you're doing and why you're doing it. "This is the one I think we do least well," Bell says, "and there is a huge competitive advantage to doing it well."
Your ultimate aim, Bell says, should be to make your personal brand a powerful weapon for your company."

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