The Key Qualities of a CEO in the Next Decade


Anuario Computing | December 19, 2018

The Anuario Computing article, “The Key Qualities of a CEO in the Next Decade,” was authored by Russell Reynolds Associates Consultant Jesus Arevalo. In it, he discusses how leaders are beginning to operate in worlds of ecosystems and the personality traits needed for success in this new landscape. It also featured the firm’s research, “Beyond the Corner Office: Leadership in a Multi-Company Ecosystem.” A translated excerpt of the article is below.

In this new world of ecosystems defined by increasingly rapid technological change and digital innovation, it has become vitally important to have leaders who are well-rounded, resilient and fully prepared to make the changes required to stay ahead in today’s uniquely disruptive conditions.

Richness and diversity of experience and skills are key qualities in forward-looking CEOs: if they are to be effective in resetting company strategy, the breadth of their knowledge has to stretch well beyond the strictly business sphere.

The leadership role in the next decade will be taken on by what we call ecosystem CEOs, who will not simply be managing company assets and resources, but will also have to interact creatively with banks, investors, stakeholders and so on. Strategic partnerships between companies are nothing new. But what we are dealing with today is a structural change in corporate relations, which means that CEOs must now seek out complementary strategic partners with whom to share expertise, resources and risk.

At Russell Reynolds Associates, we recently completed an in-depth study that highlighted the importance for modern-day leadership of personality traits - pragmatism, reluctance, vulnerability and ability to connect – that we describe as “quiet” leadership attributes. In characterizing the role of a CEO, “loud” words such as passion, inspire, influence, charisma and energy were used three times more often than those describing “quiet” attributes like humility, authenticity and being a good listener. Having a strong personality, on the “loud” side, does not necessarily result in the better exercise of management. Far from it: the capacity to connect with others, to be vulnerable or to display a certain reluctance to take a particular risk, are traits that are closely associated with character and integrity.

The best leaders are not defined by one particular personality trait but by their ability to span across the apparently contradictory differentiator pairs in each of the four core leadership competencies. In other words, the most effective leaders can be as disruptive as they are pragmatic, as risk-taking as they are reluctant, as heroic as they are vulnerable and as galvanizing as they are connecting.

It is vital that CEOs are capable of taking risky decisions, but these must also be calculated ones, appropriately prioritized and properly monitored. They must also be able to critically examine their own decisions and their consequent evolution.

To read the full article, click here.

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The Key Qualities of a CEO in the Next Decade