The Four Traits of Successful CEOs

Curious as to what traits add up to a great CEO? The results of 10-year study called the CEO Genome Project was recently published in Harvard Business Review – and what they found was eye-opening.

Using a database of assessments for 17,000 C-suite executives, including 2,000 CEOs, the researchers uncovered the four management traits critical to a CEO’s success:

  1. Reaching out to stakeholders
  2. Being highly adaptable to change
  3. Being reliable and predictable rather than showing exceptional, and perhaps not repeatable, performance
  4. Making fast decisions with conviction, if not necessarily perfect ones

As I read through the findings, I realized that each of these traits is linked to emotional intelligence (EQ).

Reaching out to stakeholders is directly correlated with interpersonal skills, a critical EQ competency. CEOs form strong business relationships by meeting and working with others.

Being highly adaptable to change is all about flexibility, another important EQ competency. Companies that are more agile and flexible are the ones who grow the fastest.

Being reliable and predictable means you, as a leader, are steady and stable. Your performance is steady, your personality is stable, and people know what they’re getting when they work with you.

Fast decision making is correlated to being an effective leader. I have seen leaders who are slow decision makers get passed over for promotions. Jeff Bezos agrees:

“If you’re good at course correcting, being wrong may be less costly than you think, whereas being slow is going to be expensive for sure.”

Want to know where you fall on the continuum? Let’s do a little leadership effectiveness quiz:

Do you reach out to your stakeholders all the time? Occasionally? Never?

How adaptable are you? Do you dig your heels in and stick with the plan, or do you change so often that your team isn’t sure what direction to head in?

How reliable and predictable are you? Does your team get the same boss every day? Or do they get a different one depending on the situation?

How decisive are you as a leader? Do you make decisions with 70% of the information, as Jeff Bezos urges? Do you wait to have more than 90%? How fast do you make decisions?

If you’d like to improve your awareness and become a more effective leader, reach out today!

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