Success in the C-Suite – Walter Sabo

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Cover image for  article: Success in the C-Suite – Walter Sabo

There are many high theory blogs about success in the C-Suite. For decades, I have been hired by media CEOs directly to assist in the development and implementation of their strategies. My work has no theory: I get to watch the CEOs up close and hear their aspirations and pain.

Here are the real world traits of winning CEOs.

1. The Ability to Run Anything. Their management skills are not imbedded in one product. Their skills would transfer to any industry. The primary skill is clarity. Since it is obvious they could run anything, the fact that they have chosen a particular company to manage flatters the employees and they want to follow the leader.

2. Clarity. Employees gravitate to clarity. Effective CEOs impose no confusion of goals, no personal agenda outside the work that must be done. Effective CEOs never share their personal problems, they never confuse at-home stress with work stress. They don't ask the staff to do personal errands, get favors for their family or wonder aloud whether or not they should get a divorce.

3. Unflappable Ethics. The staff knows if the CEO is a liar or crook. They know it immediately. When employees sense deceptive practices in the C-Suite, they are never motivated to do their best -- or to do anything at all. That's why the Sarbanes Oxley Act is a tragedy and a joke. The act is not necessary for CEOs of ethics and it has so far never been enforced for the dirty, dirty cheats.

4. Openness to New Ideas. "It might work." That's the winning CEO's response to new ideas. They know that the life of the company is the next idea. Ideas are encouraged and lead to action -- even if the action is "no." Vague responses and very large committees assigned to handle new ideas kill innovation. The worst title ever in the history of corporate life is "Chief Innovation Officer." The great CEO seeks innovative thinking from every employee.

5. Assistants Love Them. That’s the acid test!

Walter Sabo is the Chairman of Sabo Media, a company that offers executive-on-demand services.Walter SaboHe has worked on-site to build out new digital content platforms such as Sirius/XM. His team was the first to discover the marketing clout of web stars, Internet organic video producers. They founded OMMA award winning HITVIEWS. The company placed brands such as CBS, TiVo and Mountain Dew inside UGC. In FM broadcasting he is a leader in the profitable sector of FM Talk and held executive positions at NBC and ABC Radio. He can be reached at

Read all Walter's MediaBizBloggers commentaries at Sabo Strategies.

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