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Common Traits: What All Successful CEOs Have in Common

In depth psychological interviews of over 60 CEOs found that there are three qualities that successful CEOs have in common. Jonathan Menkes details his findings for The Harvard Business Review. In his study he broke CEOs down by success; they were either named highly successful, average performers, or highly ineffective. The results are conclusive. The …

In depth psychological interviews of over 60 CEOs found that there are three qualities that successful CEOs have in common. Jonathan Menkes details his findings for The Harvard Business Review. In his study he broke CEOs down by success; they were either named highly successful, average performers, or highly ineffective. The results are conclusive. The three traits that highly successful CEOs have in common are completely lacking in those who were highly ineffective. The necessary traits are:

  1. Realistic optimism – leaders set lofty goals (that others might be afraid to set), but pursue them rationally
  2. Subservience to purpose – their professional goals are their reasons for living, they value their lives based on their successes toward their goal
  3. Finding order in chaos – leaders break down complex situations to relay them to others and solve their problems

These three leadership traits then trickle down to all employees. Menkes says, “real leadership is recursive: it’s a continuous process that starts with a leader and is echoed in that leader’s people.” Have no fear, he says you can teach yourself to have these traits if they’re not inherent to you.

Read: Three Traits Every CEO Needs

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