Thursday, April 21, 2011

The five habits of highly effective CEOs

Sorry, Steve Covey, author of numerous "Seven Habits" books.  Highly effective CEOs only need five good habits, according to a new book by NYT columnist Adam Bryant "The Corner Office: Indispensable and Unexpected Lessons from CEOs on How to Lead and Succeed."  NYT recently ran a long story summarizing the five habits.  As a service to my loyal readers, here is my even shorter summary:
  1. Passionate curiosity.  Effective CEOs may project confidence and stability when in public, but when they are out of the spotlight, they are constantly collecting and analyzing information from employees, customers and other key stakeholders.  They may not be the smartest person in the room, but they know how to ask the right questions and push to make sure they get accurate answers.  
  2. Battle-hardened confidence.  Have a really tough problem?  Certain people relish the opportunity to take it on.  These top CEOs relish in adversity.  They have experienced failure and learned how to recover.
  3. Team smarts.  Lots of dimensions to this, including ability to play well with others, how to recognize the talent a team will need to succeed, how to tell how team members are reacting to each other.  
  4. A simple mind set.  Get to the point, make it clear and simple.  One phrase I liked: people need to ditch the "Power" and get to the "Point."
  5. Fearlessness. 
    “One of the things that I characterize as fearlessness is seeing an opportunity, even though things are not broken,” said Ursula M. Burns, the C.E.O. of Xerox. “Someone will say: ‘Things are good, but I’m going to destabilize them because they can be much better and should be much better. We should change this.’ The easiest thing to do is to just keep it going the way it’s going, especially if it’s not perfect but it’s not broken. But you have to be a little bit ahead of it, and you have to try to fix it well before you have to. Companies get into trouble when they get really complacent, when they settle in and say, ‘O.K., we’re doing O.K. now.’ ”

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