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What is this thing called CEO leadership?

| March 29, 2011

by Jim Bruce

Last week my attention was drawn to a 2007 article by Harry M. Jansen Kraemer, Jr. “What is this thing called CEO leadership?“.  Kraemer is clinical professor of management at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and an executive partner with Madison Dearborn, a private equity firm based in Chicago.  He is also the former chair and CEO of Baxter International, Inc., a global healthcare company.

When I first looked at the piece, my eyes fixated on the “CEO” in the title wondering how CEO leadership was really different than “leadership.”  After reading the article through, I concluded that Kraemer’s ten leadership characteristics were just as applicable for all leaders as they were for CEOs.  Here they are:

1.  Does the leader have “true self-confidence”?  Kraemer asserts that true self-confidence enables you to accept yourself as you are, recognizing your strengths and your weaknesses, and focusing on your continuous improvement.

2.  Does the leader demonstrate “genuine humility”?  Is the leader approachable and caring about the staff as individuals?  Does the leader balance the demands of the multiple constituencies that are in play at any one time?

3.  Does the leader possess solid values and set an example of those values?

4.  How well does the leader manage the “people process”?  Are the right people in the right jobs?

5.  Is the leader capable of setting clear direction for the team?  Using Einstein’s words, does he or she  “Make it simple without being simplistic.”

6.  Is the leader an effective communicator?

7.  Does the leader motivate and empower the team?

8.  Is the leader capable of “making it happen”?

9.  Does the leader have the courage to deal with constant change, controversy, and crisis?

10.  Is the leader socially responsible?  Does the leader see, and act, on the big picture beyond the team?

These are all characteristics that you have heard before.  Perhaps you would profit from taking an inventory of where you are today and picking one of these characteristics for a tune-up or an overhaul.


Have a great week.  .  .  .     jim