Lessons From The Leadership Gene - May 12, 2017

Since the Human Genome Project completed sequencing human DNA in 2003, the world has been awash in new learnings about how the body works. A more recent collaboration between teams from The University of Chicago, Copenhagen Business School, SAS and NYU—dubbed The CEO Genome Project—didn't look at actual DNA, but crunched detailed information on more than 2,000 leaders across a variety of industries.

The learnings may not have been nearly as extensive as the original genome project, but the findings from the CEO project yielded fascinating insights into leadership. Ross Kelly recently recapped a selection of the findings from the CEO Genome Project in a Chief Executive online story.

Introverts vs Extroverts. According to the research, just over half of the leaders who exceeded investor expectations were introverts. Kelly noted that extroverts are be more likely to impress in job interviews, but those interview performances had no bearing on actual results.

Elite Education. The survey found that only seven percent of the top leaders went to an elite university while eight percent had no college degree at all. The magazine added the footnote that if the study had focused just on the Fortune 100, the percentage of CEOs from elite universities would have been higher.

Failure. Nearly all top leaders had made at least one major mistake in the past, while 45 percent had in the past gone through a major career blowup that either ended their job or lost the company a large sum of money.

Executive Traits. The research concluded with what it found to be the four most important traits for senior leaders to possess:

  1.  Making fast decisions with conviction
  2. Reaching out to stakeholders and bringing them on board
  3. Being highly adaptable to change
  4. Producing reliable and predictable results

Source: Ross Kelly is a London-based business journalist. He has been a staff correspondent or editor at The Wall Street Journal, Yahoo Finance and the Australian Associated Press

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