Research Proposal

Profile of a Modern CEO


To identify the personality and leadership characteristics of a CEO in today's times, and how that differs from CEO's from the past. To examine whether their average age and income level/income expectations have changed over the years.

Early Findings

  • In the past, when people thought of a CEO, they tended to imagine a relentless titan on a quest for entrepreneurial greatness. "What comes to mind is the fiery temperament of a visionary like Steve Jobs, or the competitive drive of a leader like Travis Kalanick." But according to a study by Harvard Business Review, not every CEO shares these brash qualities. This study uses the Russell Reynolds Associates’ and Hogan’s proprietary psychometric databases to come up with a modern look at today's CEO.
  • Surveying the psychometric profiles of 200 global CEOs, the Harvard study revealed that "best-in-class CEOs do not necessarily share the stereotypical qualities associated with the role, such as extroversion or the ability to be cunning and self-promotional. " Rather, they exhibited more traditional qualities, "such as a strong sense of self-awareness, prioritization skills and, most of all, a willingness to listen and hear new ideas from their fellow leaders."
  • According to McKinsey, CEOs tend to show a greater sense of purpose and passion for what they do than other members of company leadership.
  • According to a Navalent study, top executives share an ability to remain consistent in their forms of communication. They are able to convey information in language that keeps parties neutral, does not cause or instigate conflict and is easily understandable so that effective action can be taken. Most CEOs know the value of soft skills, and many devote time and effort to refining their communication skills for the betterment of the team and company as a whole.
  • People confuse leadership with being in a position that comes with the title of “leader.” According to Cameron Herold, one of the leaders in the world of business growth and C-suite leadership, “The smartest CEOs are vulnerable, open to hearing what they don't know, and are always trying to learn.” The CEOs who remain open to learning are the ones who continue to live at their growth edge. In fact, one of their greatest skills is being able to know what they don’t know, and then spending their time and energy filling that gap.
  • This article from Forbes describes the five skills all modern CEOs should have. They should have a high tolerance for ambiguity, a capacity to understand and embrace new technology, must be able to inspire not only his or her team but the public at large, agile decision-making skills, and the ability to recognize valuable skills and positive qualities in others, and thus placing these key individuals in roles where they will have a chance to shine.
  • According to Russell Reynolds Associates , there are 9 attributes that differentiate CEO's. They analyzed their database of nearly 4,000 executive assessments, including over 130 CEOs. "These tests measure a number of competencies, such as relationship skills, communication skills and decision-making approaches. We believe our findings will reaffirm with quantitative evidence what is perceived to be true and, more important, will provide fresh perspectives around what it takes to make it to the top."
Prepared By
Gail P.
1236 assignments | 5.0