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Qualities of A Great CEO

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Patricia Thompson, a corporate psychologist who works with companies and does psychological assessments on candidates for high-level positions writes in great detail about some of the qualities required to be a great CEO.

The qualities a company looks for in a CEO can vary somewhat, depending on the organization’s culture and the state of the business.  For example, companies in turn-around or building mode may require different qualities from companies that are running well and just in need of maintenance.  That said, there are some general qualities that would be attractive in all CEOs.

The first is general intelligence.  CEOs need to be able to effectively analyze complex data, think critically, be quantitatively skilled, recognize patterns and synthesize information.  In addition to this standard form of intelligence, CEOs also need to have emotional intelligence.  Good leaders have well-developed insights into people and are able to use their understanding of individual and group dynamics to influence, inspire and make decisions. They know the importance of developing those who report to them and building a cohesive and high-functioning team to drive the business.  They are also self-aware.  They understand their assets and potential liabilities so that they can leverage their strengths, develop in the areas that need it and make sure that the members of their teams have the appropriate skills to complement their strengths and shore up their weaknesses.

Good CEOs also obviously need to have good business acumen.  They need an in-depth grasp of the industry in which they work so that they understand the trends and the market.   They tend to be oriented toward growth and business development.  They are assertive and confident enough to be able to make tough decisions when necessary.  They are emotionally mature and possess balanced judgment.  Because they set the tone for the business (as others are always watching them for cues), they understand the importance of monitoring their moods.   Good CEOs are also strategic.  While the tactical aspects related to execution can (and should) be delegated to others in the business, the CEO sets the vision for the organization.  As such, they should be innovative and willing to take educated risks.

Finally, there are some more social and intangible factors that CEOs possess.  They are able to establish themselves as credible and trustworthy by having a strong executive presence. They are able to build relationships with others effectively, and leverage those relationships to influence others and get things done.  They are able to handle pressure effectively and persist in the face of obstacles.  They are charismatic and inspirational, with excellent communication skills and an ability to interact effectively with a range of individuals – from front line staff to senior executives to the board.

Note from the Editor

Patricia has analyzed the qualities required to be a great CEO with laser sharp precision in this article. When I first read her article, I was impressed by how she had organized all the qualities required to be a Great CEO with so much clarity. Another point I’d like to add is that, I believe a great CEO is a people developer, he understands that people build a company and he focuses a lot of time and energy in building the most important resource in the organization – people. Besides, a great CEO provides inspiration and leadership. Quality employees want to work for him NOT for the pay check but because they admire him, respect him and want to do something for him. He unites and inspires people to work as a team.

About the Author

Dr. Patricia Thompson is a licensed psychologist whose current areas of professional interest include personality assessment, team-building, executive coaching and career planning. She has been working at Sperduto & Associates, Inc., a boutique corporate psychology and management consulting firm in Atlanta, GA since 2004.  Her personal interests include playing and watching tennis, reading, playing the piano and updating her blog at blog.silverliningpsychology.com.

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