6 Behavioral Scales of a Successful CEO

What makes a successful CEO? Though there is much debate on this topic, and inevitably amazing anomalies, we have determined that most successful CEO’s often share these same 6 behavioral traits when looking at their BE Success Survey:

Proactivity: The desire to pursue achievement of excellence in activities acknowledged by others as important for status in a community.

Target Score: 75%+

High Scorers in proactivity thrive on setting goals and working hard. They are often determined, ambitious and self- motivated, and tend to be energetic and enterprising. Others might describe them as capable, persistent, and someone who shows initiative.

It may seem obvious that Proactivity is an essential behavioral scale for a CEO. However, people commonly think being proactive only means being a good planner, not procrastinating, or taking the initiative to get work done. Though it means all of those things, it is a lot more than that.  According to an article by The Conversation Your behavior is proactive when:

  1. you choose it yourself rather than comply with external demands
  2. you execute strategically more than mindlessly
  3. you are future-focused rather than anchored in the present or past 
  4. your intention is to change something for the better, thus to create a better future.

There are times when going with the flow and conducting business as usual is the best route, but knowing when to change direction and implement a proactive change is what separates good leaders from great leaders. 

Dominance: The desire to take control whenever and wherever possible.

Target Score: 75%+

High scorers in dominance are leaders who are good at being in charge.  They tend to be strong, forthright, determined, and able to influence others. They are powerful, and others realize this power. 

Dominance can sometimes have a negative connotation because people immediately associate it with harshness and dictatorship. However, a CEO needs to be able to take charge and make decisions when needed, and be able to influence others positively in order to get things done.  You need a certain amount of assertiveness in order to lead.  Those who are afraid of expressing their thoughts and who don’t assert themselves in crucial situations can keep innovative ideas hidden and get trampled on when faced with someone who is more confident in taking control. When you are able to balance this important trait with the scales that follow, you will greatly increase your impact.

Support: The ability to be encouraging and kind in a way that attempts to benefit others.

Target Score: 50%

High scorers in support care about people deeply. They are supportive and sensitive to the physical and emotional needs and wants of others. They are thoughtful, peace-loving and warm. They like to “touch” others at the heart level. People often confide in them. They are encouragers who see the good in others. Relationships are often their number one priority.

Being a great CEO means caring about your people and encouraging their growth so that they can grow your business and care about it too.  However, caring is shown not only through words, but consistent, mindful actions. Employees who consistently feel cared about feel safe in their environment. They know that it’s ok to raise their concerns, ideas, strengths and growth areas, and as a result they’re more productive.  This genuine caring creates trust, and trust creates loyalty. Loyalty is what makes good people stick around and make the company more successful . The HBR article, “Good Bosses Create More Wellness Than Wellness Plans Do,” shows that when people have a good relationship with their leaders, they’re more motivated, they perform better, and they’re more likely to go the extra mile to support their team.

Endurance: The ability to persist with any task through to its completion.

Target Score: 75%+

High scorers in endurance need to finish what they start. They have a strong sense of duty and obligation. They work conscientiously and are usually able to withstand hardship and adversity. High scorers in Endurance are focused and not easily distracted.

Not giving up is essential to success in any field, but especially for CEO’s.  Since CEO’s often have to be comfortable taking risks and venturing into the unknown, this scale is vital. If you get discouraged by one challenge or set back, you’ll never have the opportunity to learn from mistakes and overcome. You can stay at a road block for the rest of your life, or you can figure out the way forward. As a CEO, you need to be able to figure out a way forward, which brings us to our next important scale. 

Creativity: The ability to think and act innovatively.

Target Score: 75%+

High Scorers in Creativity are original thinkers. They tend to be adventurous, bright and very “quick on their feet.” They have an appreciation for beauty and are an “idea person” who thinks outside the box. They are capable of producing solutions out of “thin air.” The high scorer in Creativity seeks out interesting and out of the ordinary experiences.

According to a new study by IBM, Creativity is now the most important leadership quality for CEO’s, outweighing even integrity and global thinking. The study is the largest known sample of one-on-one CEO interviews, with over 1,500 corporate heads and public sector leaders across 60 nations and 33 industries polled on what drives them in managing their companies in today’s world.

Despite popular opinion, being creative isn’t just for the musicians and artists of the world. We all have an innate creativity that sometimes gets lost in adulthood. As a kid, you came up with creative games to play outside or imagined story lines with your action figures. However, as we become adults, many of us become more self-conscious and lose the courage to be imaginative and become much more risk averse, with only a few people retaining that sacred sense of limitless possibility.  In the business world, positions are defined as “creative” and many of the people who aren’t in those roles pursue more structured ways of thinking and stop cultivating personal creativity, because they think it’s only for ‘creatives’. However, the challenges of leadership today, and, especially, in the future require creativity.  As robots and artificial intelligence begin to transform the economy, creativity is one of the only things that resists automation.

In short: great minds don’t think alike. To unlock maximum potential, CEO’s must take advantage of creativity. 

Emotional Support : The need to receive acknowledgement from others emotionally and socially.

Target Score: -40%

Low Scorers in Emotional Support are independent and self-motivated. They tend to be confident and are often effective in meeting their goals. You do not need much emotional support from others; “a little goes a long way.”Independence, freedom, accomplishment and tangible results motivate the low scorer in Emotional Support. 

If you depend on others too much for your sense of well-being and are easily influenced by the opinion others, you can become angry or hurt when you don’t feel your emotional needs are being met. This pattern often leads to conflict with others and is ultimately self-defeating, especially for someone in a position in leadership. Conversely, people who score extremely low on this scale may shut people out, be too independent, and come across as uncaring or unsupportive of the team. Striking a perfect balance of confident independence and self-motivation with the behavioral scale mentioned above, Support, is key.

Finally, the great thing about behaviors is that you can change them.  There are practices that you can incorporate into your life in order to become a more self-aware and effective leader. 

Curious where you score on these behavioral scales? Contact us today to try our behavioral assessment and begin your journey of self-awareness and growth. 

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