4 Essential Tools for an Aspiring CEO

As a productive and aspiring CEO, the education you obtain in business school completes just the first step to achieving your dream job. Starting your own company or moving to the top of an existing ladder takes creativity, perseverance, and the right tools. Learn to use these tools like a CEO before you ever make it to the top.

Time Management Skills

time management

All CEOs manage time differently, but the most successful professionals evaluate their own time management strengths and weaknesses and come up with systems that work for their individual pitfalls. Developing a sense of when you work best, how you work best, and what distracts you becomes essential if you want to elevate yourself to the CEO level.

Many CEOs learn to protect their time by limiting the number of business interactions in which they participate each day. Typically that means not letting email rule the day, limited meetings and other correspondence with people to allotted amounts of time, and staying focused on the most important projects. That may mean blocking certain Internet sites, logging off the Internet altogether for specific blocks of time, or taking a few minutes every morning to meditate. Aspiring CEOs should figure out what works for them and practice that strategy diligently long before they take the corner office.

The Right Apps and Devices

Along with the obvious email and other communication applications, try some new, clever apps that help you keep track of ideas or run your business. Evernote, for example, lets you collect all your ideas and Internet finds in one digital space. Insightly organizes your email contacts in a new, relevant way, and Buffer manages your social media presence.

To operate all the great apps out there, choose the right computer and mobile device on a reliable network such as T-Mobile. Your business aspirations define the best technology for you, but devices compatible with a lot of apps create more opportunities. Select a phone like the reinvented Galaxy S6 Edge, which runs all the applications you need, rather than something that looks like it came out of the 1990s.

A Strategic Plan

Aspiring CEOs may not enjoy the final say on a business’s strategic plan, but learning to develop one is a key step on the path to becoming a CEO. Whether a CEO creates one for a small business or a corporation, a strategic plan outlines what the business does well and why. Strategic plans are usually short (about a page long) and focus on just a few aspects, such as the objectives of the business and its long-term goals.

While a strategic plan differs from a business plan, CEOs should also know how to craft elevator-pitch versions of each type of plan. Learn to concisely and clearly speak to the organization’s long- and short-term strategies. Strategic plans might also outline the business’s culture and values. You should create strategic plans for any businesses you dream of starting and practice by making strategic plans for work projects you hope to undertake.

A Smart Approach to Networking

Social media and the Internet have forever altered the way CEOs and employees access information. In days past, smaller networks may have made more sense because of limited sharing capabilities and the amount of time it took to convey certain pieces of information. Today, however, smart CEOs recognize that the key players in their businesses may not actually reside in their personal networks.

In a telling article, the Harvard Business Review points out that CEOs may not recognize the importance of the various influential people in a business. This oversight occurs for a variety of reasons, some of which include cultural, racial, or gender-related blind spots. A truly effective aspiring CEO approaches potential networks with creativity, seeking out people who engage in innovative conversations and influence their corners of the workforce. Including more people in a network opens up previously untapped channels of communication and sources for ideas.

The right tools for an aspiring CEO aren’t just digital shortcuts and clever apps. If you combine a savvy understanding of business technology with your natural acumen for business, you’re well on your way to achieving those aspirations.