What makes a CEO exceptional?

Imagine the quintessential CEO. You’ve probably conjured up the vision of a tall, self-confident male, Harvard diploma in hand, with a flawless track record. Surprisingly, more than half of top CEOs are introverts, don’t have an Ivy League education, and claim to have made a major professional error at some point. We also know that they tend to demonstrate four specific key behaviours:

1. Reach Out to Stakeholders
Keeping stakeholders happy is critical to any CEO’s success. Strong performers balance insight into their stakeholders’ priorities with an unrelenting focus on delivering results. The skilled CEO gains colleagues’ support by instilling confidence in team success, even if that involves uncomfortable or unpopular moves. When tackling contentious issues, good leaders give everyone a voice, but not a vote. They solicit views but don’t default to consensus-driven decision-making.

2. Adapt Easily to Change
CEOs must adjust to changing environments and unanticipated situations. Adaptable CEOs recognize that setbacks are an integral part of changing course, and view mistakes as growth opportunities.

3. Make decisions with speed and impact.
Exceptional CEOs tend to make decisions earlier, faster, and with greater conviction than others, even, sometimes, with incomplete information.

4. Being Reliable and Predictable
The ability to reliably produce results is possibly the most powerful of CEO behaviours. Boards and investors love a steady hand, and employees trust predictable leaders.

While there is certainly no “one size fits all” approach to leadership, focusing on these critical behaviours will increase both a board’s likelihood of choosing the right CEO, and an individual’s chance of success in the role.

Keep reading, learn about effective leaders, and how to spot executive leadership talent.