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What makes an Exceptional CEO?

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October 9, 2006
Author: Derek Rowley

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I came across a fascinating website the other day calledTheCEOProject, which released a report last July that outlines the factors they discovered which makes exceptional CEO’s exceptional.  For the past 15 years, they have studied and worked with about 700 CEOs of fast growing, mid-sized companies with revenues between $15 million and $1.2 billion.  That experience has taught them the profound difference between run-of-the-mill chief executives and the peak performers. Keep reading to discover some CEO tips to help you learn how to be a good CEO.

The most exceptional CEOs, according to their report, consists of the top 5% of all chief executives.  These top performers usually create 10x or more economic value than their more average peers.  This high degree of success can be traced to 3 critical success factors being present.

Factor #1 is the “Burning Desire to Improve and and Accelerated Ability to Apply Ideas”.  They have a burning desire to raise their own game and create 10x outcomes, which fuels their daily thoughts and actions.

Factor #2 is “CEO Vision:  Connecting the Dots and Calling the Sequence”.  They have the ability to look at the needs of an existing or potential customer, and match those needs with resources they believe they can assemble.  Their vision is exponentially bigger and brighter than their peers.

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Factor #3 is Time Allocation.  In the Report, this was the clearest difference between the top performing CEOs and their counterparts.  The average CEO performs what they call “management by walking around”, while the exceptional CEOs take a different approach that focuses at least half his/her time on 3 specific elements:

  1. Improving the business/profit model
  2. Upgrading the human capital in the organization
  3. Improving the customer service and saless processes.

The report, which is available on the website lists specific questions the exceptional CEO asks each day, and provides a formula for becoming a “10x CEO”, which is described as “quite simple, but devilishly hard to implement and consistently perform.”

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