The 24 hour news cycle (including sports) and social media has people caring a lot more about the comings and goings of CEOs than is probably necessary.  This is particularly true when they jump/get pushed from their perches.  When this happens, it is up to the organization to find that JUST RIGHT person to lead them going forward.  Suddenly, selection matters to them (momentarily).

CEOs (and head coaches of sports teams) have unusual jobs and career paths.  Typically, they rise in their profession based on technical skills and as they move along. Then, these skills are supplanted by their ability to influence others inside and outside of the organization.  A coach who develops players becomes a fundraiser.  An engineer who runs a tech company has to schmooze investors. A banker who leads a financial institution needs to explain the company’s investments in not-so-popular industries.

All the while, those who aspire to be CEO are competing with others for the opportunity.  Sometimes these competitions are very public, but other times it takes years of skill development and checking the right boxes (and acquiring allies) to put oneself in position to be considered.  And don’t forget building the ego to think that you are the “one.”

So, what makes for a good CEO?  According to this article, you need to be a smart, strategic, narcissistic, and empathetic.  Oh, and don’t let people see the narcissistic part.  But, let’s not assume that there is a one-size fits all model here.  Among other variables, if the company is successful, the CEO should fit the culture.  If the organization is struggling (or is facing significant threats on the horizon), someone who can shift the culture may be more effective.

Boards of directors will do better in their search when they can be clear about their expectations for the CEO.  However, they also need to be aware of the quirks that it takes to be successful in the job. 

Thanks, as always, to my colleague Dennis Adist (@DennisAdsit) for making me aware of the article.