How to Be an Exceptional CEO?

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Many leaders desire to be an exceptional CEO, whether they are at Fortune 100 companies or startups.  Should they copy behaviors or build underlying structure? Is there a time table?  Are IQ, EQ and Behavior tools enough?  Recently, McKinsey released its CEO study on what makes a CEO “exceptional.” Let’s review its 3 key findings and explore what takes to be an exceptional CEO. In the meantime, give yourself a quick self-evaluation.

  1. Come in from the outside
  2. Change the strategy within the first 2 years.
  3. Reshuffle the management team AFTER the first 2 years, and balance how much change the institution can absorb.

This is one excellent path to CEO success.  Although the path may not fit you, it is good to know the underlying structure and empower yourself.

What Takes to Be an Exceptional CEO?

1. Come in from the outside?

Not everyone needs to come from outside.  The key here is how to minimize your attachments to old glory and routines and keep a fresh and objective view, which is a part of human nature management. We have found this issue has stopped many CEOs in our leadership study and Fortune 1000 CEO study.  I have paid a heavy price here myself.

How do you do here?  

2+3.  Change the strategy within the first 2 years and Reshuffle management AFTER the first 2 years?

Have you wondered what if an organization cannot afford the 2 years to warm up?  For example, Alan Mullaly joined Ford Motor in 2006 when Ford was on edge of bankruptcy.  Let’s explore what takes to develop the strategy and translate it into effective action in a timely manner.

  • Focus on the big picture
  • Know your talent and use the right people.
  • Be influential and innovative 
  • Make your team learning as easy as possible
  • Manage conflicts wisely and optimize leadership styles
  • Be ready for changes and learn fast
  • Beat setbacks and failures 
  • Stay happy and healthy with your team

All the above elements can matter now and then, which require not only IQ, EQ, learning Q (LQ), but also Adversity Q, Public Influence Q, Health Q.  How the 6Q work together just like how our muscles work in body movements.  Industries, stages of business, status of the team and others can add, modify, or delete the required elements.   The exceptional CEO need to be ready for the worst.













In addition, all 6Qs are connected.  For example, IQ and EQ can lose their power due to poor AQ and HQ, which is why IQ, EQ, LQ and behavior tools cannot solve all issues.  Being cool in the storm makes a leader unforgettable.  Being able to manage team’s mental health can win CEO extra team devotion and social credits.

How to “Focus on the Big Picture” is a good example.  The process involves not only decision-making quality, but also industrial insights, rules of games (business, society, and government), leaders’ health of Ego, innovation, resilience, and others.  Most people understand the technical part (IQ) but miss the rest that separates a Level 5 leader and a Level 4. 

Focusing on the big picture and missing big picture are behaviors.  Decision-making, knowledge, health of Ego, innovation, resilience, and others are the underlying structure of those behaviors.   Many institutions waste time on secondary behaviors.   For case studies and further analysis, please read from PwC CEO Study to How to Go from Good to Great Efficiently and Can Behavior and EQ alone Build a Level 5 Leader?

How well do you do at each part?  

What Makes The Prince Synergy Different from McKinsey and Others?

To us, Today Is NOT Tomorrow.  Not every leader has what they “should.” We do not just evaluate leaders by their behavior or performance of today.  Instead, we explore the underlying structure, find the missing tools, install the tools as smoothly as possible, and integrate learning with practices.  The tools are often beyond IQ, EQ and behavior tools.  On the other hand, without the supporting underlying structure, today’s behavior and performance will not last.

Because not all issues have quick solutions, for example, talent type, it is better to catch the development needs of a leader before “the 360 degree,” take early action, and make wise investments.  We will refer you to McKinsey and others if you need more insights in your industry.

After years of researches, we have found to build level 5 leaders is the most efficient way to strengthen society.  To be an exceptional CEO is almost the same to be a level 5 leader– pursue a big and long-term future instead of personal and build enduring greatness.  Furthermore, many “intractable issues” are due to partial approaches.  By getting to the root causes with the right tools, we often can save 50% of the time and have turned 30-40% “impossible” possible.

Here are some cases on CEO study:

  •  Can You Tell Ass Kissers from Praisers?
  •  Should a CEO be Charming?
  • Can He Handle the Job?
  • Eliminate Stress with the Right Law

Is the 6Q approach new to you?  You can take a mini quiz at our website or come to our 2-hr webinars to experience the speed and results of the 6Q approach.  You can also set up a 30-minute free consultation or choose YOUR program and practice classes based on your 6Q assessment result.   We love to meet you, know your priorities, and help you be an exceptional CEO and bring your company from good to great.  
About the Author 

Bin Yang is the author of What Stop Leaders from Good to Great, and the Managing Director of The Prince Synergy (, a leading consulting firm that finds missing tools in leadership, performance, success, and solves the hardest issues that no one else can.

If you’d like to learn to increase your 6Q, including IQ and EQ, consider reading the life stories in the book.  The Prince Synergy customizes most of its classes and programs based on the Executive 6Q Assessment results.  The 2-hr webinars, a mini quiz and 30′ free consultation are also available for hands-on experiences.  For more information or to schedule an interview, lecture, or appointment, please contact 310-668-1828.




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