Scott Hoots is the CEO of QC Kinetixa leader in the regenerative medicine industry.
CEO is the last stop. It is the top operational person of the company, which means the responsibilities are heavy. After all, you’re where the money ends. Many aspire to the job and join the club of heavy hitters like Zuckerberg, Whitman, Bezos, Musk and Catz, just to name a few.
What they have in common is that they have all worked their way to the top in their own unique way. There’s no secret recipe, no checklist to share with high-spirited students — the formula is different no matter who you talk to, including myself.
What fascinates me is why people want this title. What is the motivating force? Is it power, leadership, money, the challenge? Often, answering the “why” gives a sharp picture of a candidate’s readiness for this Herculean mission.
From my point of view, there’s a big difference between a CEO candidate who looks good on paper – does all the right things to climb the proverbial corporate ladder – and really knows for yourself that you’re ready to take over.
You can do many things to prepare; in fact, the Center for Creative Leadership did an intriguing white paper analysis on CEO readiness. Some of the actions that make you “appear” to do are the following:
• Go to the right school
• Hang a prestigious MBA on your office wall
• Take on a large number of senior leadership positions
• Focus on career development
• Be friends with the board
• Having a mentor
• Customers eating and dining
It all looks great on the resume and the board of directors may assume you’re ready if they prime you for the role, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you feel ready. Performance at work does not equate to personal development.
On my journey, I reached a stage in my career where everything seemed to align, and I was ready for the challenge. I had the qualifications. I had the experience. But my experience was not an extended stay in a senior leadership role; it was about meeting the challenges in different positions to help me develop my range. Measuring your own willingness is about discovering what you do well, sharpening those skills, and being able to honestly discern your weaknesses.
But you have to find out what you don’t know. Fill the gaps. Go beyond the comfort zone. Do the hard stuff. Ask yourself, where are my shortcomings and how do I solve them?
It is important to not only try to succeed, but also try to fail a few times to build that courage and determination. Sometimes failure is a better teacher than success.
Leading a team, an organization or a company is a balance between self-assurance and humility. You must know yourself. You can’t possibly be good at everything, and you shouldn’t pretend to be. You have a team of professionals who are experts at what they do. Let them do it; defer to the talent pool at your fingertips. Lead them and motivate them by example. The by-product of this is building trust and respect with your team.
Personally, my journey is a real winding road with some interesting bumps along the way, as it should be. Experience leads to wisdom. I’ve served in sales and senior leadership positions for franchise brands, from pizza to pets to medicine. I have lived in Ohio, Florida, Alabama and North Carolina. The bottom line is that I created my own roadmap and set my unique course. It’s exciting to grow a business and learn about yourself along the way.
You have to love the job. This doesn’t mean you’re a workaholic, giving way to you to get the job. It means you are not afraid of the meetings, the community involvement, the long hours or the paperwork. You have a clear vision and the work inspires you. It means you have to be brave. You are willing to take risks and are curious where that will take you. Above all, the journey is about finding your passion. It’s about learning what intrigues you to take the business to the next level, armed with your toolbox of skills and enthusiasm.
But perhaps the biggest ah-ha moment is when you realize what really matters: people. The relationships you build over the years aren’t just about business networking and building customer lists. It’s about making connections. True compassion for people is transparent. Any decision should be based on how it affects the people around you. That may mean investing in upskilling your staff or adding more resources to help develop successful franchisees.
So, what motivates people to want this role and know that they are ready to become CEO? The answers are as varied as the people themselves, but there are some common questions they should ask themselves: Am I willing to work hard? Do I love this? Do I enjoy interacting with people?
Ultimately, if you’re asking yourself if you’re ready to take on the CEO role, the answer should be “because I know why.”