Thursday, January 06, 2005

Criteria to become CEO

An article worth reading if you're almost there in becoming CEO is the one by Dan Ciampia (advisor on leadership transitions) in the HBR of Jan 05. In the article, Ciampa shares some of his rich experience and knowledge about how you can distinguished good CEO candidates from the ones that actually make it.

According to Ciampa the three most important criteria to become CEO are:

  1. Management savvy (a. avoid jumping in personally to solve problems others can handle, b. make the right judgments about what to expend energy on, c. maintain control of the key decisions and a full pipeline of talented people, d. make people feel appreciated and stay loyal)
  2. Political intelligence (a. don't be labeled "political", b. recognize how relationships are likely to affect early success, c. get peers and subordinates to go out of their way to help, d. don't seem self-serving)
  3. Personal style (a. make success look effortless, b. allow others' performance to be recognized too, c. manage energy to stay on the 'rested edge' and to avoid the 'ragged edge', d. enable peers to improve their performance, e. stay grounded and make sure basic needs are met while mastering new concepts)

On top of that, Dan Ciampa recommends to make sure you 1. understand your boss's point of view [whether he is worth it or not :)], 2. know your limitations [don't dive in the deep too early], and you 3. manage the shadow organization [grasp the alliances and political realities that come with the top-level job].


Blogger gregorydm said...

I found your posting very interesting. I did a quick research to find out more information and I found this (unfortunately probably less interesting I think...)

It comes from Jan B. King, she leads a consulting practice primarily devoted to helping traditional publishers, writers, and educators with content development and curriculum design for print publications and innovative web sites. In addition she teaches small business management topics and writes and speaks extensively on employee-ownership and participative management.

Five Defining Characteristics of Great CEOs - Jan B. King

1. Personal insight.
Great CEOs are great leaders. They know themselves and what they stand for. They have been called on all their lives as problem solvers because others know them to be fair and impartial. People respect their opinions and look to them for guidance. Great CEOs are mature as people. They can suffer disappointment more gracefully than others and give others credit for their achievements. They don’t come in the office door yelling for something they need. They aren’t as concerned about titles or power structures as they are about the welfare of those who work at the company. They are trustworthy because they’ve always been honest with people and have earned that trust. They care about families, and they know that people are more important than dollars and express it in their actions every day. Finally, great CEOs seek out feedback. They want to know how others see them so that they can understand themselves better and continue to grow as people. They also want feedback about the company from an employee perspective, and they use surveys as a starting point for creating a dialogue to make things better.

2. Resourcefulness.
Great CEOs seem to have boundless energy. They come to work with the greatest enthusiasm. Even when they don’t feel like it, they find ways to reenergize themselves and come in ready to go. They take good care of themselves physically and emotionally so that they can be there for the employees and the needs of the company. They give much more than they take every day. They don’t give up. If the wall is too high, they back down and find another way around. They don’t blame, but they do look for solutions to problems so that those problems are less likely to happen again.

3. Courage.
The CEO has one of the world’s toughest jobs. No matter how tough it was to start the company, it’s even harder to keep it going and growing. A CEO must decide what he or she stands for and do what is right, all the time.
It takes courage to fire the salesperson responsible for the company’s biggest, most lucrative account when that same salesperson drives a company car drunk and causes an accident. There will be many times when CEOs will want to smooth over something that requires decisive action because of the potential consequences or because they just can’t take on one more challenge at the moment. However, CEOs who exercise poor moral judgment will lose their personal integrity with all of their employees watching.

4. Willing to look at risk.
A great CEO isn’t afraid to look at the downside and answer the hard questions he or she hopes will never become a reality. The CEO needs a backup plan—one that is designed by looking at the company’s worst-case scenarios. This plan addresses questions such as: What if your industry experiences a slump? What if new governmental regulations affect your business? What if you lose the client that accounts for 50 percent of your sales?
Preparing yourself and your company for these eventualities may be the difference between a tough year or two and bankruptcy. If you are in business for 20 years, some of your worst-case scenarios will probably happen. The key is to be ready and able to take immediate action to reduce the loss.

5. Foresight.
It seems some CEOs have an uncanny ability to predict the future. They may have unusual insights into their particular markets, and luck may play a part as well. In addition, they are prepared to create their own luck by cultivating an ability to see opportunities for their company and to make the deals that convert those opportunities into realities. Some things that may seem like amazing foresight are actually the result of the hard work and discipline it takes to constantly look forward to build a successful company.
Great CEOs must also constantly develop new products to build and retain a customer base. Foresight is also the ability to hire and retain the right people, looking ahead toward the growth of the company. Finally, over time, each company must develop a steady source of business during both good economic times and bad, because there are sure to be bad economic times during the life of a business.

12:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have an interesting website. It shows the perspective of a leader.

1:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am interested in the amount of time a CEO puts in per week in the company. Can you help me out?

9:40 PM  
Blogger Thomas Dodds said...

Great blog! I'm weeks away from defending my thesis and model of leadership to get my master of science in this fascinating subject.

I'll check back often!

Now as for how much time a CEO spends - that depends. But if time is a concern (overly so) then you probably don't believe in the organization as much as you might think or want to. This is ok. You do realize there is a sacrifice to be made - which a lot of people don't consider. If you are committed to the organization - then you'll do what it takes, hopefully you've done that since day one.

To be CEO is to have the influence to change the organizational culture.

I am a senior software developer in A retailing company, a vice president of finance in a real estate company and a full time student, husband and father. I still find time to blog and devour 40+ books a year! It's about self management - time mangement doesn't exist. I am working towards C-level leadership.

Mind if I join the quest?

5:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just read the information on the criteria for becoming a CEO. Truthfully, I google a request on how to become the best CEO and therefore came to your link. Very good reading and it taught me a lot.
I'm actually a manager at a hospital system that loves his job and stands behind his company very much! I have 2 top Leader CEO's that I work for, and even though they don't know it I truly admire their dedication and commitment. It truly starts at the top and it trickles down. Thank you for your information!

I want to be the next great CEO!:-)

9:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi Murat from Turkey and i wanna become a CEO and im still studying mechanical engineering and i wanna learn to become CEO is good for me if so,which college is the best or which college's education is the best? you think what i should do to have a well-paid job?Anyway if you wanna write to me this is my mail

6:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear All,
Thanks for the valuable information. I need a suggestion from you. I am BE(Mech) now pursuing my PhD in sixsigma-Quality Engineering. I have PGDBA(distance education). I have studied modules of MBA(systems) in depth(research level). I am confused on what kind of jobs i can be suitable. Though i have the qualification and qualities (softskills) I donot have experiecen in industry.I am 27yrs. Just that i worked as software egg for 1 year.

1:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm doing a project that require me to map the career trajectories of CEO's. Can anyone recomend any resources? my email address is

12:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello, im not sure how often these comments get checked, but i was wondering if anybody can give me a list of fields that a CEO may get involved in. that would help me very much, thank you!

12:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A person who really would become a CEO one day won't be reading posts like this. There is no definite way or path or school or degree or type of job that leads to a C level management. If you find yourself in this forum, this means that you are confused and you want to be a CEO as a child. Remember there are many many bright American Harvard MBAs just working for 100000 a year jobs. Only a handful of them would be CEOs. My point is there is no smooth way. That's why CEOs are unique in terms of their characteristics.

11:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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10:01 AM  

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