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9 Things

CEOs Say About Themselves


People love to talk about CEOs, but how do these executives describe themselves? 100 Chief Executive Officers were surveyed to understand what great leaders say about themselves and get a sense of whether the descriptions from the top sound like the ones about the top.

By Shannon Muhly at the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL)

When we asked CEOs to describe their strongest personality points, I thought it was particularly interesting that 16% of CEOs claimed that humor was their strongest asset. I haven’t worked for too many humorous bosses but the funny ones did make the day go by faster and made me more excited to come to work. Creating that “bond” through laughter made me want to do better work. Not all CEOs have witty charm, but they make up for it with other strong competencies. 14% of CEOs revealed that their strongest personality point was honesty while another 13% said it was loyalty. These high ethical qualities in a boss often pave the way to an ethical organization overall. Having a combination of all three could create a culture that cannot be reckoned with.

When we asked about the personality point they deemed their weakest, thirty-four percent of the CEOs surveyed said it was impatience. It is also interesting to note that more than 10% of CEOs recognize that they do not listen as well as they should and admit to getting “impatient and interrupt rather than letting people talk.” Nearly 10% of CEOs acknowledge their judgmental tendencies as well, “I can be critical and judgmental of others.” Learning how to recognize these behaviors when they occur and how to better regulate oneself is necessary for any leader – but when all eyes are on you it can be particularly important.

Lastly, we asked CEOs what words they would use to describe themselves. More than half of the CEOs (52%) described themselves as passionate, focused, or driven. It can be assumed that part of the reason for the huge success of these leaders at the top is that they never lost their passion, focus, or drive for the work they do and the people and organization they do it with. These findings serve as a reminder that even at the highest levels of leadership there are ways to improve and keep striving. So what do you think, do the descriptions from the top sound like the ones about the top?

Originally posted in CCL’s Blog. Eckerd College has been a network associate of CCL since 1981.

Since 1980, the Leadership Development Institute (LDI) at Eckerd College has delivered high-quality, assessment-based leadership programs to thousands of leaders. As a Network Associate of the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL®) in Greensboro, North Carolina, LDI serves the needs of the national and international business community. Over the years, the impact of our programs on individuals, organizations, and teams has repeatedly been described as powerful and life-changing.

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