Adaptability: Critical to Effective Leadership

A decade long study published in Harvard Business Review set out to identify the specific attributes that differentiate high-performing CEOs: 

Our analysis shows that CEOs who excel at adapting are 6.7 times more likely to succeed. CEOs themselves told us over and over that this skill was critical. The adaptable CEOs spent significantly more of their time—as much as 50%—thinking about the long term. Adaptable CEOs also recognize that setbacks are an integral part of changing course and treat their mistakes as opportunities to learn and grow. In our sample, CEOs who considered setbacks to be failures had 50% less chance of thriving. Successful CEOs, on the other hand, would offer unabashedly matter-of-fact accounts of where and why they had come up short and give specific examples of how they tweaked their approach to do better next time. Similarly, aspiring CEOs who demonstrated this kind of attitude (what Stanford’s Carol Dweck calls a “growth mindset”) were more likely to make it to the top of the pyramid: Nearly 90% of the strong CEO candidates we reviewed scored high on dealing with setbacks.

Read more about the CEO Genome Project in the Harvard Business Review