Do You Really Know What Makes a Good CEO?

By: Miriam Grobman

Go ahead and google the words “successful CEO.” You will find many images of suited caucasian men in confident, extroverted poses. Indeed, we have a certain image of how a successful CEO should look and act (male, extroverted, tall, aggressive, etc…) based on the films, books, and other pop culture media forms we’ve been raised with.

The handful of CEOs who are often in the headlines help perpetuate these stereotypes. Maybe you’re like me; you’re tired of constantly hearing about the same people (Gates, Zuckerberg, Jobs, Welsh, Bezos…) and wish there were more diverse examples of what CEOs can look and act like.

[Related: The Powerful Sign That Things Are Changing for Women]

Thankfully, there’s a body of research out there that can help us get a clearer picture.

In their book The CEO Next Door, Elena L. Botelho and Kim R. Powell use their two decades of experience with hiring, advising, and coaching over 2,600 leaders to codify the successful CEO’s genome and overturn the myths about what it takes to get to the top and to succeed.

Some of the interesting points they uncover from their database of 17,000 CEOs and C-level execs include:

  1. Only 7% of the CEOs graduated from an Ivy League college. 8% of CEOs didn’t even finish college.

[Related: Four Ways Managers Can Support Women’s Leadership Development]

So, what are the skills or behaviors that separate the best from the rest? Botelho’s and Powell’s research identifies four behaviors that are associated with success:

  1. Decisiveness.

Do you think you’ve got what it takes to be a great CEO?

[Related: What You Can Learn From the Woman Changing the Job Interview Game]

Miriam Grobman is the founder of Miriam Grobman Consulting who provides strategic advisory and leadership development solutions to companies who want to advance more talented women into leadership roles. She is also the creator of the Influence Masterclass and the Executive Presence Lab leadership courses for women.

Originally published at

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