Mark of a leader

They’re different from you and me. CEOs, that is. And researchers through the years have identified many different — and sometimes contrary — traits that contribute to their ascension.

5: Percent greater value of companies that are led by marathon runners, as compared to those helmed by nonrunning CEOs, according to a 2015 study of leaders by German academics.

1: Rank of “creativity” among the most crucial leadership qualities, according to a 2010 survey of leaders in 60 nations. Integrity ranked second.

6: Percent of CEOs who are also pilots in a survey of S&P 1500 leaders published in 2011. The outcome: “[sensation seeking] pilot CEOs engage in significantly more active M&A policies”.

7: Rank of CEOs among seven categories of senior management in emotional intelligence. “Once leaders get promoted,” notes Travis Bradberry, author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, “they enter an environment that tends to erode their emotional intelligence.”

32: Percent of CEOs in a 2011 survey who identified “positive attitude” as a key characteristic of top leaders. Nine in 10 identified the ability to engage and empower employees.

43: Percent of CEOs who were first-born children in their families. A 2007 study found middle children accounted for 33% of leaders, while last-born offspring comprised 23% of CEOs.

313: Managers sampled in a 2005 study that names “learning agility” as the characteristic that correlates most directly to a CEO’s success.

2011: Year Jon Ronson wrote The Psychopath Test, which posits CEOs are four times as likely to be psychopaths as the general population. “First I thought this might just be psychologists feeling full of themselves,” said Ronson in a Forbes interview. “Then I met [former Sunbeam CEO] Al Dunlap.”

About the Author

Steve Brearton

Steve Brearton is a freelance writer in Toronto.

comments powered by Disqus


Jointly presented by CPA Canada and CPA Ontario, The ONE is the must-attend, multi-track event of the year, designed for all CPAs who want to be at the top of their game.

Our Firm Directory allows you to search for Canadian CPA firms using our interactive map as well as other criteria.

You’re in the eye of the storm amid a swirl of slips, forms and receipts. Chart your way through tax-time turbulence with these updates and resources.