How To Become A CEO. What Does A Chief Executive Do?

How To Become A CEO

How to become a CEO. The research is in. A 10 year study of 2,600 CEOs and 17,000 assessments and the results will probably surprise you. There were four things the majority of CEOs did as junior executives that propelled them all the way up to the top chair. The successful ones understand the significance of soft skills, functional knowledge and experience.


  1. Decisive
  2. Relentlessly reliable
  3. Bold and adaptable
  4. Not afraid of conflict (1)

These are four categories of Emotional Intelligence. Okay, I know what you might be thinking; he’s reading this through a lens that is self serving! Maybe. But I think I’m right. Here are the four corresponding EQ elements:

  1. Decision Making, which includes
    • Problem-Solving: They process decisions in a way that leads them to the right choices
    • Reality Testing: They objectively evaluate reality
    • Impulse Control: They subdue their impulses in order to achieve long-term goals?
  2. Self actualization combined with healthy self regard: They know who they really are, what they really want, why they want it and how they are going to achieve it?
  3. Flexibility: They are capable and willing to bend or change if it is right for the decision at hand. Because of this, taking bold steps is part of their formula for success
  4. Assertiveness mixed with independence: They have the willingness and ability to act in the face of adversity; and, are free to follow their instincts regardless of the circumstances. Interested in growing your emotional intelligence? Be one of the first 5 to call and I’ll give you $100 OFF an assessment.

How To Be A CEO (What Will Surprise You)

Most of them didn’t want to be a CEO since they were 10 years old. One in 12 didn’t graduate from college. And, almost half of them had a significant flaw in their resume.

  • Those who be­come chief executives set their sights on the C-suite at an early age. In fact, over 70 per­cent of the CEOs didn’t have designs on the corner office until later in their careers.
  • You must graduate from an elite college. Only 7 percent of CEOs in the data set are Ivy League graduates—and 8 percent didn’t graduate from college at all.
  • To become a CEO you need a flawless résumé. The reality: 45 percent of CEO candidates had at least one major career blowup. (1)

Why Do CEOs Get Fired?

Great leaders realize they need a coach according to the Financial Post. Why? Two of every five new chief executives fail in their first 18 months on the job, an article in the Harvard Business Review, reports. “And it appears the main reason has nothing to do with competence, knowledge, or experience, but rather with hubris, ego and an out-of-touch leadership style.” (2) Instead, they should practice Level 5 Leadership.

What Is A Level 5 Leader?

Jim Collins describes Level 5 Leadership in his book, Good To Great. (3) To make it long term as a CEO keep this in mind.

  1. Company first: They embody a paradoxical mix of personal humility and professional will
  2. Futuristic: They set their successor up for greater success than theirs
  3. Not charismatic: They are modest
  4. Driven: They are driven to produce results
  5. Diligence: More plow horse than show horse
  6. They share the credit
  7. Take the blame when things go wrong
  8. Are insiders
  9. Attribute their success to good luck, not personal talent

Why CEOs Don’t Want Executive Coaching

” CEO’s say they’re most interested in such skills as conflict management and communication. Yet they put the need for compassion, relationship and persuasion skills far down on their list. They think of the latter as “soft skills,” ancillary at best.” (4) This is a mistake. The evidence clearly says that soft skills (emotional intelligence) are as or more important than any desire to produce results!


  1. http://ceonextdoorbook.com/
  2. http://business.financialpost.com/executive/leadership/why-great-leaders-have-a-coach-behind-them
  3. Good To Great, Jim Collins, pp 39-40
  4. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/douglas-labier/why-ceos-dont-want-execut_b_3762704.html