How to interact with a CEO

Perhaps you’ve received a meeting invite with the CEO included? Or will be attending an event where you know the CEO will also be? Or maybe you’ve got a new role which requires more regular contact with the CEO….? Whatever the reason, learning that you’ll be interacting with the CEO can cause one’s stomach to flip somewhat if we’re not used to it! It’s a very normal feeling and so we wanted to provide our five top tips here on how to interact with the CEO for those of you who would welcome some advice…

  1. Be confident: Congratulations! The fact that you’re in a position where you’ll be interacting with the CEO, operating in the same space as them for some reason, normally means good things. You’ve been recognised as valuable to the business and its objectives. You deserve to be there, have earned it and can offer a lot to whatever the situation is.
  2. Be human: Do remember that they are humans too, with personalities, interests, a sense of humour etc. Having everyone tread on eggshells around you can be exhausting for a CEO and unproductive. You’ll both get so much more out of the interaction if you use your energy on being smart and natural rather than on tiptoeing around someone. Just asking, ‘how are you’, can go a long way.  
  3. Be in the know: What is important to them? Show that you understand the needs and aims of the business, not just the team you’re in. What is the business, and by default the CEO, prioritising and looking to achieve this year? Talking about things in these terms will make the conversation so much more effective for both sides. Similarly, showing who you know – other key stakeholders within the business and externally – tells your boss that you understand the people that are valuable to the business.
  4. Be trustworthy: As with any relationship, trust is at the centre of key professional relationships. How can you show in a short space of time that you’re trustworthy? Speaking well of other people or companies indicates that you would only speak well of your own. Showing discretion where appropriate, committing to the time of the meeting, seeing through all the follow ups etc. all show that you are a safe pair of hands.
  5. Be efficient: Being prompt if not early, respecting the short amount of time that the CEO has and following up quickly with initiative are all fantastic ingredients to a relationship with a CEO. Remember, the more people who can help the CEO achieve the business aims the better, and if you can show that you’re one of those people then you, them and the business will all benefit.

Confidence, knowledge, trustworthiness, efficiency and a human approach might sound like a lot to ask for in one meeting or event but we absolutely believe it’s you. It’s why you have a seat at the proverbial, or maybe even literal, table in the first place! You’ve got this!

For more advice on leadership positions, please contact our Search Director Abigail Barclay –

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