The Characteristics of Top Performing CEO’s
The stereotypes, or at least what we have been taught in the past, are CEOs who are extroverted, self-promoting risk takers; right?
Is this definition actually accurate? So, what are the top characteristics that differentiate CEOs from other executives? And more importantly, which attributes separate Top Performing CEOs from the Rest?
There has been a great deal of discussion and debate about CEOs and the attributes that define their success. This article was designed to help you, the CEO, better understand which traits actually support high performance, and which don’t!
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Russell Reynolds Associates, one of the world’s leading executive search and leadership advisory firms, and Hogan Assessments, a global leader in personality assessment and leadership development announced a global partnership designed to increase the success rate of executive appointments and accelerate the development of rising leaders
The Evaluation: In their evaluation, they chose an in-depth approach, developing detailed profiles of 200 CEOs. They used the results of three established psychometric instruments: one which provides an overall measure of adult personality, including interpersonal skills, emotional factors, resiliency, and communication style; another which measures management and leadership style, including how people influence others, their approach to innovative thinking, and self-motivation; and finally one which measures areas for development or potential negative factors in managers, including their decision-making style.
The results demonstrated that intensity, an ability to prioritize and focus on real issues, and an ability to know one’s strengths and weaknesses (what one doesn’t know) (and to utilize the best in what others do know) are more strongly related to best-in-class CEO leadership than traditional traits like being an extrovert or self-promotion.
The Findings: Their analysis uncovered that CEOs clearly differ when compared with others in Executive Positions and that two Characteristics stood out.
1) The ability to gauge and embrace necessary risks:
2) The ability to act and capitalizing on opportunities.
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They considered these characteristics the “core” of the CEO personality. In other words, a High Performing CEO is significantly less cautious and more likely to take action, when compared to other senior executives.
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In addition, six other characteristics differentiate the typical CEO from other executives on a statistically significant basis:
• Drive and resilience
• Original thinking
• The ability to visualize the future
• Team building
• Being an active communicator
• The ability to catalyze others to action
It’s rare to have such detailed data related to the mindset of the CEO. It is even rarer to be able to link data to corporate performance.
In conclusion, they compared the results of Top Performing CEOs to less successful CEO’s, and identified that Top Performing CEOs stand out in three ways:
1) They have a greater sense of purpose, and demonstrate passion and urgency.
These traits often manifest themselves as intensity, impatience, and an eagerness to move forward as well as a strong sense of ownership and immersion in activities. In short, they asserted that the worst thing new CEOs can do is “sit on their hands.” The best-performing CEOs “move boldly and swiftly to transform their companies.”
2) They value substance and going straight to the core of the issue.
They have an ability to rise above the details and understand the larger picture and context. They have a keen sense of priorities as they think and act.
3) They have a greater focus on the Company, results, and others, than on themselves.
They find and utilize people who “know what they don’t know” and have an ability to be open-minded, seek additional information, and actively learn.