Other than his being an introvert, that is. From introverts tend to be better CEOs — and other surprising traits of top-performing executives:
So what did make CEOs successful? After analyzing all of their data, the researchers found that roughly half of the candidates earning an overall ‘A’ rating in their database, when evaluated for a CEO job, had distinguished themselves in more than one of four management traits. (Only five percent of the weakest performers, meanwhile, had done the same.) The four were: reaching out to stakeholders; being highly adaptable to change; being reliable and predictable rather than showing exceptional, and perhaps not repeatable, performance; and making fast decisions with conviction, if not necessarily perfect ones.
Indeed, that last trait — a willingness to make a call quickly, even without all the needed information — was one of the four “essentials” Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post, detailed in his own letter to shareholders last week. Calling it “high-velocity decision-making,” Bezos wrote that “most decisions should probably be made with somewhere around 70 percent of the information you wish you had. If you wait for 90 percent, in most cases, you’re probably being slow.” Being wrong isn’t always so bad, he wrote. “If you’re good at course correcting, being wrong may be less costly than you think, whereas being slow is going to be expensive for sure.”
Botelho agreed that first trait was the most surprising. “We frankly expected to find that strong CEOs stood out for the quality of their decisions — that they turn out to be right more frequently,” she said. “But what very clearly stood out was the speed. Quality was likely something they developed earlier, but then they’re willing to step up and make the decision faster, even with more uncertainty.”
Finding yourself right most of the time gives the confidence to keep making those decisions, and allows others to to defer to your decision-making when everything is so entirely opaque. It’s like the question Napoleon used to ask his generals: do you think of yourself as lucky. For those where things turned out as they had hoped, it would often have looked as if it had been little more than luck. But the better judgement you have, as they say, the luckier you become.