CEO skills – what does it take to get to the top?

CEO skills Ellis Fox Blog

This week Balfour Beatty announced that their Construction Chief, Mark Bullock will be retiring in December and that they’re on the hunt for a replacement. Those will be big shoes to fill. Balfour Beatty is one of the largest main contractors with a better than average track record. In particular the UK Construction division’s performance buoyed the results for the global group. Lifting profits by two thirds.

In an industry where profit margins are hard to maintain, it indicates a leadership approach that is not only rooted in construction expertise, but is also able to strategically navigate ever evolving challenges.

For those professionals who are mid-career with ambitions to get to the top, what are the most important skills to develop to become a construction leader that makes an impact?

Human insight

The ability to connect with co-workers and communicate well, is vital and is a skill to be developed throughout your career. Well built relationships often are the catalyst for future opportunities. But more than that. As a leader you need to find the right people for your team, even nurture them into their roles, empowering and enabling them to progress in their career. This can only happen if you take a time and effort to get to know them, understand how they work best, what their interests are, and ultimately what motivates them.

Tech discernment

There is absolutely no shortage of technology available. Most of it designed to create efficiencies. Being able to discern what technology will be a good fit and why, as well as when to invest in it is an important leadership skill. It requires an innate understanding of how the technology can solve challenges the business faces, both currently and into the future. The ability to compare similar technologies and identify what the business needs helps leaders make informed decisions.

Eagle vision

Many professions add to their CV that they’re detail oriented. This is indeed important because when it comes to managing teams and projects as getting the details right can make a big impact on the success of a project. However, a great leader needs to be able to zoom out at the same time. See the broader picture. Look ahead and consider what factors might impact a project. If this is negative how to mitigate for it. If positive, how to capitalise on it. Critical though is the ability to tie the big picture back to the finer details and co-ordinate timing accurately. This is how great leaders maximise resources and keep projects on track.