Crossroads

At the intersection of technology, finance and the Pacific Rim.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

What it Takes to be CEO

David Brooks commented on a study done on personality traits of CEOs. The key point:

(The study) found that strong people skills correlate loosely or not at all with being a good C.E.O. Traits like being a good listener, a good team builder, an enthusiastic colleague, a great communicator do not seem to be very important when it comes to leading successful companies. What mattered, it turned out, were execution and organizational skills. The traits that correlated most powerfully with success were attention to detail, persistence, efficiency, analytic thoroughness and the ability to work long hours.

So the above brought back to mind an interview done with Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft. Ballmer was asked, "Fill in the blank: you want your company culture to be more _______? His response:

"Efficient. The right word is efficient. That’s the direction that every business leader is steering their company culture toward right now. Given the current economic climate and the uncertainty about how long the recession will last, this is a time when organizations need to do more with less, and Microsoft is no exception. We’ve made good progress, but for a company that has grown every year for more than 30 years, learning how to operate under more constrained circumstances is not always that easy."

As a customer/user of MSFT, I would disagree--pay more attention to detail on products --would be one key area to start. Their business is being disrupted at an alarming rate and (I think) you don't "efficient" your way out of the issue. I am sure the people at Google loved this answer.

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