Traits of Successful CEOs

by | May 16, 2011 | Observations

I read a fantastic article by Justin Menkes in the Harvard Business Review last week.  He talks about the research he did for his book, Better Under Pressure, and the three traits of successful CEOs.  He cites a fascinating statistic, "More than half the companies that were industry leaders in 1955 were still leaders in 1990.  More than two-thirds of the 1990 industry leaders no longer existed by 2004." 

Two thirds! Given the pace of the marketplace, I can’t say that I’m not surprised.  Leaders and companies must adapt to change or risk being left behind.

The three traits Menkes identifies are:

  • Realistic optimism
  • Subservience to purpose
  • Finding order in chaos

He emphasizes that these traits can be learned, which I think is a critical point.  In our current entrepreneurial environment, leaders rise to the top and by taking stock of their role and being willing to learn, they can build and grow company that will be successful long-term.

Does your CEO exhibit these leadership traits?  Even if you’re not the CEO, are you going to start building these traits in yourself, so when you become the leader, you will be ready?

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