on seasoned business instincts, they
quickly sort the good business ideas
from the bad so they can steer toward
Fixate on customer/client needs. They
embody the customer persona so that
they can get specific about diagnosing
how business plans will meet customer
needs now and in the future.
How CEO Candidates Are Wired
Intensely competitive, confident, and
emotionally resilient. While it’s true
that most executives share these traits,
they are even more pronounced among
those preparing for a CEO position.
Craving of attention. Most personality
derailers, such as arrogance or
volatility, decline in prevalence. Not
so for attention-seeking. The top job
attracts those who enjoy being noticed
for their talents and charms.
Creative or pragmatic (but rarely both)
Twenty-one percent of CEO candidates
are creative, conceptual strategists,
and 29% are practical, no-nonsense
operators. Only 8% have both traits.
Where CEO Candidates Struggle
Default to the short-term. The
so-called “strategic plans” these
leaders make are often not very
strategic at all. They solved
operational dilemmas, but few
generate effective long-range
growth strategies. So, meaningful
organizational change is rare.
Treat talent as an afterthought.
Their most rigorous planning
seldom focuses on talent. Coaching
is diplomatic, but is often not goal
oriented. Talent development is
perfunctory, not strategic.
Experience difficulty in being
inspirational. When trying to rally the
organization behind their plans, most
leaders turn reflexively to financial
projections. Leading from the heart
doesn’t come naturally for them.
Access the full High-Resolution
Leadership report at www.ddiworld.com/
Developing engineering talent that is
prepared to take on senior and executive leadership roles is essential to the
long-term success of any AEC firm.
A professional development research
study examined leaders within various
industries, including engineering, to
identify the knowledge and skills that
can enhance business metrics and
The study found that experience alone
doesn’t build leaders. High-quality assignments and projects should be specifically designed to provide early-tenure
leaders with the opportunity to sharpen
the skills that will drive results, inspire
excellence, and enhance the ability to lead
teams. Years of experience is connected
to expertise and leadership potential
in three areas: high-growth skills,
moderate-growth skills, and low- or no-growth skills.
High-growth skills factor into leadership strength levels. These skills include
driving for results, inspiring excellence,
and leading teams, which all require goal
achievement and team motivation. The
study found that new leaders were challenged the most by leading teams because
successful achievement of goals isn’t a solo
act. This success depends on the varied
capabilities of team members.
Moderate-growth skills involve
coaching, driving execution, and global
acumen. Leaders with more tenure are 2. 6
times more likely than leaders with fewer
years of experience to have stronger skills
in this area. Projects and assignments
can be provided to help professionals
grow their skills in driving execution and
Low- or no- growth skills are skills that
have no connection between tenure as a
manager and strength: executive disposition, selling the vision, operational decision
making, and customer focus. High-tenure
leaders were only 1. 7 times more likely to
have stronger skills in this area than lower-tenure managers.
The average years of managerial expe-
The Characteristics of a CEO
rience ranges from 12 years for mid-level
leaders to 18 years for more executive
leaders. What are the average number of
years of experience necessary to become
an expert in these skill areas?
Can personal attributes play a role in how
managers recruit and develop professionals equipped to lead and ultimately
guide an organization? The study’s
researchers analyzed the characteristics
of more than 240 finalists for chief executive officer positions.
What CEO Candidates Do to Excel
Obsess over execution and results.
They stay laser focused on outcomes
and demand specifics on how results
will be achieved.
Instantly and accurately size up
complex business situations. Relying
Are You Wired to Lead?
OPERATIONAL DECISION MAKING
DRIVING FOR RESULTS
COACHING AND DEVELOPING OTHERS
SELLING THE VISION