by Dean Stamoulis, Harvard Business Review, 11/15/16.
…We chose an in-depth approach, creating detailed psychometric profiles of 200 global CEOs, using the results of three well-established psychometric instruments: the Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire (16PF), which provides an overall measure of adult personality, including interpersonal skills, emotional factors, resiliency, and communication style; the Occupational Personality Questionnaire (OPQ-32), which measures management and leadership style and behavior, including how people try to influence others, their approaches to innovative thinking, and self-motivation; and the Hogan Development Survey, which measures areas for development or potential derailing factors in managers and executives, including their decision-making style and independence of thinking…
As for the stereotypes, while we confirmed that CEOs in general are more likely to be risk takers than other executives, we did not find that they are consistently extroverted or self-promoting.
In addition, six other traits 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…
When we compared the results of the best-performing CEOs to those of their less successful peers, we found that best-in-class CEOs stand out in three ways:
1) They show a greater sense of purpose and mission, and demonstrate passion and urgency…
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. We summarize this as an ability to “separate the signal from the noise…”
3) They have a greater focus on the organization, outcomes and results, and others than on themselves. They “know what they don’t know” and have an ability to be open-minded, seek additional information, and actively learn. This notion of a relatively modest CEO is counterintuitive for many. At the same time, there has been a good deal of writing about the usefulness of humility in CEOs. Our finding is data-based evidence that the Level 5 CEOs described in Jim Collins’s book Good to Great — leaders who are “a study in duality: modest and willful, shy and fearless” — can be related to desirable organizational results. Warren Buffett is a wonderful example of how this set of traits can play out in a leader: Despite overseeing what could be considered one of the most successful companies ever founded, Buffett estimates that he spends 80% of his day learning in an effort to understand businesses, markets, and opportunities…