CEO success

This blog explores the distinguishing factors between competent CEOs and exceptional ones.


CEOs are often seen as sharp, well-dressed business experts, but not all have advanced degrees or affluent origins. Success in the corporate world isn’t just about academic intelligence or wealth. Rather, leadership skills crucial for heading a successful company can be learned by anyone, and the process for developing and applying these skills is concisely described in this summary.


CEOs are made, not born


Contrary to popular belief, being a CEO doesn’t require extraordinary traits or a wealthy background. Research reveals that most are ordinary individuals who developed leadership skills throughout their careers. Surprisingly, more than 70% never aimed to become CEOs initially.


Intelligence and eloquence aren’t prerequisites for successful CEOs. In fact, only a small percentage of CEOs come from Ivy League backgrounds, and 8% didn’t attend college at all. Additionally, about 30% of CEOs are introverts, proving that an outgoing personality isn’t essential. What matters most is the ability to grow and lead effectively within a company.


Opt for quicker, broader decisions over detailed ones. 


You don’t need exceptional intelligence to be a successful CEO, as high IQ can lead to decision paralysis. Effective CEOs prioritize decisiveness, making choices quickly and confidently. For instance, research shows decisiveness boosts the likelihood of being a top performer by 12 times.


Understanding stakeholders is crucial for effective leadership. Many CEOs are introverts, skilled at considering others’ perspectives. This ability to listen and empathize is key in understanding what drives customers, board members, and stakeholders. Avoid making assumptions about their views; instead, display genuine curiosity and attentiveness.


Consistency and commitment are key for CEOs


When choosing a CEO, reliability is a major factor; CEOs perceived as dependable are twice as likely to be selected. Being reliable involves consistently fulfilling commitments. Research shows that 94% of successful CEOs are highly committed to their promises, prioritizing discipline and thoroughness over erratic brilliance.


To build a reputation for reliability, start by making and keeping modest promises, as boards often prefer sure, moderate outcomes over risky, grand promises. Consistent behavior also enhances reliability. Avoid letting emotions dictate actions; maintaining a steady demeanor makes you more approachable and trustworthy to colleagues.


In interviews for leadership roles, sharing anecdotes from past experiences where you demonstrated reliability can be persuasive. Highlight situations where you’ve successfully navigated challenges and learned from them, showcasing your ability to handle future problems effectively. This approach reinforces your image as a dependable leader.


Embracing change and adapting to future trends is crucial for business survival


Successful businesses recognize the need to evolve and are willing to abandon old methods for new opportunities.


To stay ahead, companies should adopt a ‘trendhunter’ mindset, actively seeking and analyzing trends both within and outside their industry. This approach involves studying developments in related fields and applying these insights to anticipate and adapt to market changes. For example, a theme park might draw inspiration from various family entertainment sources, like movies or sports, to remain relevant and innovative. This strategy of looking beyond traditional industry boundaries can lead to more effective and forward-thinking business decisions.

Inspired by a book “The CEO next door”; Elena Botelho, Kim Powell

2 minutes read

What does it mean to be a great CEO

CEOs are made, not born,