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How Do CEOs Measure Their Peers?

Chief Executive magazine’s CEO of the Year is unique in that the award’s recipient is chosen by his peers. These business leaders focus on a number of attributes when selecting a CEO of the Year winner such as a focus on people and a consistent moral landscape.

Each year, the Chief Executive of the Year selection committee meets to agree upon the criteria to be applied to each of the nominated finalists and then to apply that in a way that permits the group to reach a decision. This year we asked Tom Saporito, CEO of RHR International, a firm of management and organizational psychologists, to help frame the criteria in a way that would help members compare and contrast candidates with disparate strengths from different industries. He synthesized our criteria into six distinct areas with the understanding that leadership is the thread that ties all the criteria together.

  • Future-Forward: Intentional, purposeful positioning of the company for the future. Incorporating vision and innovativeness, this is where a leader sees patterns in the broader environment and acts to innovate on his or her company’s value proposition and to lead its industry.
  • Drives value by being intimately connected with customer and shareholder needs. Incorporating external benchmarks and customer and shareholder value created, this is evidenced when the CEO knows the business inside and out and knows how the company stacks up relative to the competition.
  • Unwavering focus on people. Encompassing employee engagement, leadership development and internal people processes, this key aspect is manifest when a leader invests in processes that support the growth and performance of all employees.
  • Achieves and sustains business results. This is where sustained performance and degree of difficulty intersect. Such a leader relentlessly drives performance and is never satisfied with the status quo.
  • Breadth of impact that extends beyond the business. To have a demonstrable impact beyond one’s company and industry, a leader needs to focus on the well-being of the communities in which his or her company operates.
  • Maintains a stable, consistent “moral landscape.” Courage, integrity, reputation and having a coherent high purpose become part of a corporate culture when a CEO honors commitments and is transparent in word and action in putting interests of the organization above personal gain.

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