Qualities and Traits of a Chief Executive Officer


Executive job-seekers of all functions have been taught to pull together a portfolio which sells the technical, financial and operational skills that they have accumulated over their years of experience.  Whatever the next destination of your career path is, ensuring you stand out among other candidates with similar experiences is the only way to get there.ceo job personality traits

However, the recruiting industry has evolved, changing the way hiring managers and search consultants view candidates.  When it comes to the C-Suite, especially Chief Executive Officer, seasoned executives do not consider a long-term track record to be an important predictor of success, much less the sole factor. Companies and their retained search consultants are looking for the full package when it comes to their CEO; charisma, passion, personality and culture fit are high ranking desirable traits needed to back up a proven track record.

Russell Reynolds partnered with Hogan Assessments to get “Inside the Mind of the Chief Executive Officer,” and discovered CEO’s have a unique psychological profile compared to the average executive. Below are a few characteristics that they found best-in-class CEOs need to possess and work to maintain.


1. Courage, Passion & Intensity: An excellent CEO is drawn to change and effective action like a moth to a flame. Best-in-class leaders are always looking towards the future, setting ambitious goals and often rely on their intuition.  CEOs take initiative, are quicker to capitalize on opportunities and are more likely to take high level risks than their other executive counterparts. Their intensity and passion for growth and development makes them charismatic and persuasive people.


2. Resilience & Drive: Leaders know that taking risks and making large-scale changes can lead to exponential growth or can fail dramatically. A key difference between good CEOs and great CEOs is the ability to bounce back and push forward. A great CEO is open to learning from their mistakes and will work to turn unanticipated situations into positive results.


3. High Emotional Intelligence: CEOs of successful corporations know a key part of success is attributed to collaboration. Great leaders strongly believe in building strong networks and know the best way to do so is forging mutually-beneficial relationships. CEOs are not always extroverted but they can easily read people’s emotions and are generally warm, easy to approach, trustworthy and uplifting.

4. Humility: CEOs should convey a personable demeanor, and one way to achieve this is by remaining humble and modest about their qualifications. Let your work speak for itself and be mindful of natural confidence being perceived as arrogance or pretention. A great leader is not self-involved but instead should be consistently working to develop the next great leader(s).

5. Excellent Communication Skills: Finally, the climb to the top is never reached without excellent communication skills. Although CEOs are the decision makers of the company, best-in-practice CEOs know that employees who feel valued and integral to the company’s success are incredibly productive. Active engagement within your teams leads to better results. Remember, the best leaders are also the best listeners so offer mentorship and support whenever possible. Practice empathy and promote internal, cross-functional collaboration.

If you’re looking to move up in the C-Suite, it’s time to self-assess. Do you have all the above personality traits? What are some other characteristics a great CEO should have? 


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