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These personality traits explain why CEOs rise to the top

These personality traits explain why CEOs rise to the top

09/20/2017

By Jacob Passy

What makes for a good CEO doesn't translate necessarily to other C-suite roles

Chief financial officers rarely become chief executives -- and a new study may have the key as to why.

Very few CFOs have made the jump to being at the helm of a company. Only 13% of finance chiefs made such a move between 2000 and 2015, a 2015 analysis from the Korn Ferry Institute (https://www.kornferry.com/institute/cfo-ceo-right-brain-leadership-gap) found. The latest example of this rare phenomenon came in late August when Expedia Inc. (EXPE) said CFO Mark Okerstrom would replace Dara Khosrowshahi, (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/expedia-names-cfo-mark-okerstrom-its-next-ceo-2017-08-30) who was leaving to helm Uber. Others who have made that same direct trip up the corporate ladder include Duke Energy's (DUK) Lynn Good and Sysco Corp.'s (SYY) Bill Delaney. Other former CFOs only became CEOs after having served in other roles, typically in operations, such as Zillow (ZG) chief Spencer Rascoff.

CEOs and CFOs offer the polar opposite qualities, researchers from the University of Chicago and Copenhagen Business School concluded in a new working paper (http://papers.nber.org/tmp/72299-w23832.pdf)distributed by the National Bureau of Economic Research. The findings were based on an analysis of more than 2,600 executive assessments conducted by Chicago-based consulting firm ghSmart.

Must read:Want to become a CEO? Learn these 4 skills (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/most-successful-ceos-have-had-major-setbacks-before-their-big-break-2017-05-04)

Per the researchers, CEOs candidates tended to share four characteristics. They had greater execution ability, meaning they prioritized speed, efficiency and being proactive over interpersonal skills. They were more charismatic, rather than having stronger analytical skills. CEOs further had greater strategic ability, indicating that they were more creative than they were organized and attentive to detail. And, finally, they displayed greater managerial talent. Like CEOs, founders of companies also displayed high levels of charisma, the study found.

Also see:AIG's new CEO is 70 -- why older corporate leaders are now the exception (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/aigs-new-ceo-is-70-why-older-ceos-are-the-exception-2017-05-16)

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