Ignore Stereotypes When Hiring a CEO

When hiring a chief executive officer, four qualities indicate whether the candidate is likely to be successful.

CEO ChairThese qualities were determined by ghSmart, a Chicago-based management consulting firm, which conducted a 10-year study called the CEO Genome Project. Researchers looked at more than 17,000 assessments of executives, including career history, results and behavior patterns.

First, ignore the stereotype of a leader. “A successful CEO is a charismatic, 6-foot-tall white man with a degree from a top university, who is a strategic visionary with a seemingly direct-to-the-top career path and the ability to make perfect decisions under pressure,” researchers Elena Lythina Botelho, Kim Rosenkoetter Powell, Stephen Kincaid and Dina Wang write in the Harvard Business Review.

Boards tend to hire energetic, extroverted candidates. Botelho tells The Washington Post that, “some of the things that make CEOs attractive to the board have no bearing on their performance. Like most human beings, they get seduced by charismatic, polished presenters. They simply do better in interviews.”

But a quiet personality isn’t a bad thing for a leader. “Introverts are slightly more likely to surpass the expectations of their boards and investors,” they write in the Harvard Business Review.

The four behaviors of successful CEOs include:

  • Deciding with speed and conviction.
  • Engaging for impact (i.e., reaching out to stakeholders).
  • Adapting proactively
  • Delivering reliably.

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