Four Behaviors of Successful CEOs

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Because most leaders want to become more effective, countless studies have taken place focusing on different leadership attributes and connecting them through correlations to different variables, many of which leaders can control.   I recently read a 10-year study called the CEO Genome Project, which had the goal of identifying attributes that differentiate CEO candidates who were high-performing in their jobs (i.e., meeting or exceeding the expectations of Board members and investors who were familiar with them). The study identified 4 key areas in which high performers differed from underperformers. They discovered that high-performers:

  1. Were more decisive.  They make decisions earlier, faster and with greater conviction… and do so consistently. By making a decision on whether to proceed or not, these CEOs were able to forge ahead without wavering. People described as decisive were 12 times more likely to be high performing CEOs! Art Collins, former CEO of Medtronic observed that “among CEOs who were fired over decision-making issues only one-third lost their jobs because they made bad calls; the rest were ousted for being indecisive.”
  2. Engaged for impact. They were committed to getting buy-in among their employees and other stakeholders in order to ensure they could deliver business results.
  3. Adapted proactively. While Ceos know they have to divide their attention among short-, medium-, and long-term perspectives, the high performing CEOs spent as much as 50% thinking about the long term, while the others were spending about 30% of their time on it.
  4. Delivered reliability.  CEO candidates who scored high on reliability were twice as likely to be picked for the role and 15 times more likely to succeed in it. “Board and investors love a steady hand, and employees trust predictable leaders. Indeed, the most common mistake among first-time CEOs (60%)  was not getting the right team in place quickly enough.  “The most successful ones moved to decisively upgrade talent; they set a high bar and focused on performance relevant to the role, rather than personal comfort of loyalty – two criteria that often led to bad calls”

What kind of leader are you? Do the C-Suite, Board members and other stakeholders agree with you?  What can you do to improve?  If you’d like to take the assessment, so you can improve, contact me and I’ll share a link.