What Characteristics should CEOs Value Most in their Direct Reports?

While there are many characteristics that CEOs value in their direct reports, during tough economic times these are the five that we believe are on the top of the list.

  1. Reliability – I can always count on them to get the job done, no matter how long it takes or what resources they need to secure.  They always keep their word. They earn the trust of others.
  2. Integrity – They act the same way all the time. They do not segment their work life from their family life from their social life. They may not be perfect, but they do not fake it. Integrity is not what people think you are, it is what you really are.
  3. Loyalty – They don’t talk behind someone’s back. If they have an issue, they address it with the appropriate person, and resolve it. They are faithful to the boss during good times and hard times.
  4. Empowerment – Always ready to help others learn and succeed, even when it means they have to work longer to get their work done.
  5. Commitment – Always trying to improve themselves and learn something new either about their craft or my business.

We have observed a trend involving companies that have outgrown key executives who have been with the company for many years.  An individual may have all of the above characteristics but lack skills or leadership ability required for the future. Ask the question, “Do you have the right person in the right job?”

We are seeing an increasing talent gap in companies between who they have “on the bus” on who they need “on the bus”.  This is one of the lowest ranked areas in our Cerius Company Snapshot when CEOs respond to the statement, “We have all the right people on the team to help us reach our goals.”  One of our top operational executives walks each CEO he works with through a quick exercise as a starting point of having the right players in the right places.  Using your organizational chart or most current employee roster, rate each employee with an A, B or C with the following scale:

  1. Someone who has the skill sets and leadership to achieve your company’s goals over the next 3 years.
  2. Someone who has the skill sets but needs leadership to achieve your company’s goals over the next 3 years.
  3. Someone who has neither the skill set nor leadership in their existing position to achieve the company’s goals.

Now add them up and see how balanced (or not), your company talent is based on its needs.


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