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What does a successful leader look and act like? How do they think? Many of us have the image of the larger than life CEO- 6 foot 2, visionary, and charismatic. Over 10 years plus Elena Botelho and Kim Powell, who recruited and worked with many CEOs, set out to find the truth. Their book, the CEO next door shatters quite a few myths and gives heart to the more 'ordinary' of humans who may have thought they had no chance.
They started with a data set of 17,000 leadership assessments they had conducted, each over 5 hours and employed state of the art data mining techniques. They analysed a subset of 2,600 of these leaders in depth in what they called the CEO Genome project. They then looked at who succeeded both in getting the role and in delivering in the role.
So what were some of the myth busters? Here are just three of the eleven surprising CEO myths the authors busted.
CEOs are all charismatic extroverts. Over one third of the sample were introverts and these were slightly more likely to exceed the boards' expectations. CEOs have had success after success in their careers. 45% of CEO candidates had at least one major blowup and more than 78% of them got the job despite this. CEOs are born, not made. The authors found it was more about behaviours, habits and career choices than innate talent. So much for the myths, what about reality. Here are what the authors found were the top predictors of success in the way CEOs and potential CEOs operated.
Be Relentlessly Reliable. The strongest predictor and for many the greatest surprise was that these people were consistent and predictable, setting realistic expectations (for themselves AND others). They made themselves fully accountable. This one behaviour made them 15 times more likely to be successful and doubled their chances of being hired. In order to support others to deliver reliably, they created safe environments, let everyone raise issues and built consistent processes, copying the best of other reliable organisations. Be Decisive. These leaders made decisions with speed and conviction, taking responsibility and where appropriate risks. They assessed the amount of deliberation and time each decision required and used frameworks to simplify and share the process- this sharing was through collaboration, not consensus. They made fewer decisions themselves, passing down decisions others had the information and experience to make. They developed practices and learned from mistakes to keep getting better. They got emotional distance to avoid bias, thought about the future and worked backwards and looked for the ‘contrarians’ to test their decisions. Engage for Impact. They 'orchestrated' stakeholders at all levels, internal and external. Clear about and communicating the 'why' they understood the key players, looked for their perspectives and get them on their team. They made sure people felt comfortable opening up to you (sound barrier) . They got out of their comfort zone- out of the office and into the field. Adapt boldly. Many talked about charting new paths before they had to not when there was not other choice. Clear about needing to shift their mindset they sought four things: novelty; opportunities to learn in each role over pay grade and kudos, being prepared to acquire new skills and letting go of old ways of working past their use by date. They sought a future focus through diverse networks, using the power of questions and starting with a ‘pre-mortem rather than just looking at what went wrong later. Finally most of the successful CEOs spent around 20% of their time with customers understanding their challenges.
Finally when asked 'What was their biggest mistake?' 75% said that their greatest mistake was betting on the wrong people. Digging deeper the authors found that this was theresult of six supposedly safe bets. I'm not going to tell you what these are. You have to read the book- which I highly recommend.
The CEO Next Door is full of insights, examples and inspirations. It's useful not only for those aspiring to be a CEO but those who are involved in selecting them. It's great to find a book that is so well supported by data and at the same time provides extensive examples. It's also full of useful takeaways, tools, tests and tips. Trust me there are more surprises but I won't spoil them for you. The book is worth reading and re-reading and keeping in your top drawer for ready reference.
Let’s get the bad news out of the way first. There’s no magic in The CEO Next Door: The 4 Behaviors That Transform Ordinary People into World-Class Leaders. The four behaviors referred to in the title aren’t going to transform you or your career. If you master them, you will probably be a better leader than you would be without them, but the behaviors themselves don’t guarantee world-class anything.
Now for the good news. There’s an awful lot in this book that can help you be more effective and more successful no matter where you are in your career or personal journey. Despite the over-promising title and the silliness of referring to behaviors as a “genome,” this is a book that you should consider buying and reading. In fact, it’s really three books.
One book will give you some solid advice on how to do better in your career today. The second book offers great advice on how to climb the org chart and, perhaps, become a CEO. The third book is about what to do if that happens. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Setting the Stage
The first chapter is an introduction to the book. The authors describe the solid research and the experience that the book is based on. It describes the “CEO Genome Project,” which is what they named the research.
One thing the book attempts to do is to debunk some CEO myths. This happens pretty quickly, but the list is long, and the myths are common. Here’s a list.
• Only ivy-leaguers need apply. • CEOs were destined for greatness from an early age. • CEOs are egotistical superheroes. • Successful CEOs have a larger-than-life personality with exceptional charisma and confidence. • To become a CEO, you need a flawless resume. • Female CEOs succeed differently from men. • Great CEOs excel in any situation. • To become a CEO, you need to check every box. • CEOs work harder than the rest of us. • For CEOs, the smarter, the better. • Experience trumps all.
With those basics out of the way, you’re ready for the three books inside these covers.
The First Book: The Four “Genome” Behaviors
The first book has some good advice, no matter where you are in your life or career. Whether you’re an effective leader or not, whether you’re ambitious or not, you’ll get things here that will help you do better. The authors describe what follows as the four “CEO genome behaviors.” (Pause to gag.)
Getting better at those four things will help you do better where you are, regardless of where that is. But, what if you’re an ambitious soul that wants to climb the org chart to its topmost reaches?
Book Two: Get to The Top: Win Your Dream Job
The authors have worked with a lot of executives and a lot of companies. They’ve engaged expert help and deployed cutting-edge technology to figure out what it takes to climb and be successful. That’s what this book is about.
The authors describe how boards select CEOs and discuss ways that you can increase your odds of being chosen. This isn’t for you only if you want to achieve the CEO position. It will help you get promoted, no matter where you are now. The key things to achieve are first-rate performance and high visibility.
Book Three: Get Results: Navigate the Challenges of The Role
Let’s say you’ve done it. You’re now a newly-minted CEO. Now what?
That’s what this final section/book is about. There’s good advice about common mistakes that new CEOs make. There’s a lot of very good material on dealing with a board. What I liked about this part of the book was the identification of common pitfalls. If you become a CEO, this could save you.
In A Nutshell
The CEO Next Door: The 4 Behaviors That Transform Ordinary People into World-Class Leaders by Elena L. Botelho, Kim R. Powell, and Tahl Raz shares solid experience and research-based advice about how to do a better job in a leadership position, how to climb to a senior position, and what to do and how to avoid common pitfalls when you become a CEO. It’s worth reading despite a title that overpromises and some language that is simply silly.
I got a copy mostly to see what data the authors had researched but also found the narratives make the book even more enjoyable. Lots of interesting and motivating facts and stories about getting better at any career at and useful at any stage. The narration was great as well. Does ommit some stereotyped attributes of CEOs such as ethnicity or physical traits, but I guess the book emphasizes that it's the factors that we have control over that matter most.
The authors give advice that are time tested by the best and brightest and always backed by data, not just because they think its right and should be followed as expert advice.
Easily one of my favorite books in over 120 audible titles.
I can't give this book a 5 star since it will keep you clueless on how to become a CEO. The book is well written but the CEO next door most know is all for himself. You can't get misled by their PR machine. Just follow the money and you will know what CEOs are really like.
According to Jeffrey Pfeffer, Stanford Professor, the #1 skill (behavior that makes CEOs successful is lying. This book does not mention this anywhere. I know CEO is a tough job, but at least the book should take a look at the good, bad and ugly of CEO behaviors. These kinds of books does not tell you what CEOs are like but what they should be like. And that is simply not true.
We just had two CEOs of major corporation who were caught making payment to Trump's lawyer to gain influence. That is an attempted bribe according to my definition. But we have laws that make all this legal so CEOs can feel that they are exhibiting good behavior. The author is from McKinsey & Co whose former CEO (Rajat Gupta) went to jail for insider trading. He was on boards of several top companies.
You can purchase this book if you want to learn about CEO behaviors but be warned that that it does not exist in the real world. If ths book jad presented the good, the bad, and the ugly of CEO behaviors then I would have given it a 5 stars.
If you want an honest view of what CEOs are like, go get "Leadership BS" by Jeffrey Pfeffer.
I was fortunate enough to be interviewed for this book- I was curious how much useful advice would be offered. The final book is full of tidbits, advice and insights from leaders who have succeeded even when going through failures. From how to manage your career, to the key attributes for success to most importantly- how it feels to be "the leader" of an organization or effort- The CEO Next Door delivers page after page. I see myself (an experienced CEO) using this book as an ongoing reference for the elements to continue to focus on and refine.
I'll also be using this book as a gift to mentees and other younger folks looking for a concise guide to rising through the ranks of whatever career path they are pursuing. The research underlying the book is the big difference here-- the data allows certain myths to be corrected (you don't have to be an Ivy League graduate) and core priorities to be set (make decisions, make them quickly, and move along).
This book is a real contribution to the arena of leadership-- for those in business, NGOs and beyond.
No body will ever become a CEO by reading this, or any, for that matter, book. But where do we find the common traits of the successful ones? And a research based information than random opinions? Try this one.
I stumbled across this book - and the CMI award it won. I found this book engrossing and the advice, stories and data were all dosed in the right amount.
The advice was provided by those who are behind the 'veil' and deal with exectuives on a daily basis. Something those of us who aren't there yet won't be exposed too.
The advice given can be implemented straight away, my favourite being the analysis of my calendar. I now do a monthly audit of my calendar to track that I'm assigning my time to my priority goals and targets.
I understand the folks may think I am crazy for writing such a review for a NY times bestseller, I still want to share with my best intent.
Although the book offers great topics and useful content, I believe the quality could be further improved. Although the book provides practical tools for people aspiring to take up leadership roles, it appears that the book was written in hurry. For example, the author could further refine the style by keeping focus on the story of a CEO / leader, rather than back and forth on multiple CEOs. Where the author believes that additional stories will help strengthen their message, it could be included towards the end or either as an addendum.
As an owner and CEO of a small business, I found this to be the most helpful book I've read in a long time. It was almost as if I had a trusted adviser on my shoulder, pointing out my most common pitfalls and telling me how to avoid them in the future. I particularly enjoyed the section on decision making, as this is an area where I'd like to improve on for my business. The examples and tips provided have already helped me make decisions more quickly and confidently. I also appreciated that the examples ranged from small entrepreneurs (like myself) to larger company CEOs. It provided a far-reaching, well-rounded perspective for me that I know will help me in the years to come as I grow my business. I'd highly recommend for anyone thinking about leading a business or currently leading a business.