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New research suggests introverts make better CEOs

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If you were asked to describe a typical CEO, a few qualities would probably spring to mind. Confidence. Charisma. Ego.

But, it turns out, being an extrovert may not be the best way to get ahead in business. That’s according to new research from the CEO Genome Project, anyway.

They analysed 2000 CEOs over 10 years, including their personality type, career history, behavioural patterns and business results. They then “sifted through that information” to work out who got hired and why – and who went on to excel in their roles and who “underperformed”.

And even they were surprised by results. 

“Our findings challenged many widely held assumptions. For example, our analysis revealed that while boards often gravitate toward charismatic extroverts, introverts are slightly more likely to surpass the expectations of their boards and investors,” wrote researchers. 

“We were also surprised to learn that virtually all CEO candidates had made material mistakes in the past, and 45% of them had had at least one major career blowup that ended a job or was extremely costly to the business. Yet more than 78% of that subgroup of candidates ultimately won the top job.”

Researchers also found four key qualities that made CEOs successful:

  1. Deciding things quickly and with conviction
  2. Being focused on delivering business insights
  3. Proactively adapting to changing situations
  4. Delivering results reliably, rather than in peaks and troughs

And the researchers conclude that good leadership is nothing to do with either “unalterable traits” or “unattainable pedigree”, and that decisiveness, adaptability and reliability are all easily developed and “non-exotic” traits – so there’s still time for you to make your millions yet.

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