The CEO Coaching International team works with some of the top business leaders in the world. And while we’re proud to say that we’ve coached our CEOs and entrepreneurs to an average profit increase of 139% over three years, we also value how much we learn from our clients.

Through my years of coaching top CEOs, I have discovered that there are five specific leadership traits that successful CEOs all have in common:

1. Think Big

There’s no question about it–If your business goals are small, your business will stay small. Or worse, it will shrivel up and die.

Here’s a simple exercise: Add a zero. If you have $1 million in revenue, what would it take to get to $10 million? If you’re at $10 million, how could you get to $100 million? And if you’re at $100 million … Now you’re thinking BIG! Shooting for exponential growth is way more effective than, say, setting a 15% sales increase goal for next year. To get to 10X, you have to innovate, disrupt, scale — all things that will help your business grow at warp speed.

2. Always Show Confidence

Most success stories involve hardship. That was certainly the case for me at Platinum Capital. There were a lot of dark days. Some months I couldn’t even make payroll.

So I hired a band.

At our state of the company meeting, in marched the Fountain Valley High School Band, with me in the lead, band uniform and all, holding a giant tuba.

I knew the company had to march through this tough patch — more than that, I knew we COULD march through it. I needed my employees to believe too. If I’d walked out on stage feeling sorry for myself, my staff would have spent the next week polishing and emailing their resumes. No matter how hard it gets, the CEO has to project confidence and inspire people to do their best.

3. Take Calculated Risks

“Heads I win, tails I don’t lose much.”

That’s the motto of my old friend and YPO Forum mate Mohnish Pabrai, who once spent $650,000 on a lunch with Warren Buffett. The money went to charity, but Mohnish and his partner credit that lunch, the accompanying publicity, and the wisdom they learned from Mr. Buffett, with transforming their businesses.

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