You need to be sure you really want the job. About half of the 150 chief executive officers that were interviewed for the book The Secrets of CEOs said that they found the role intensely lonely, that the hours were long and that the responsibilities were huge, with international travel playing havoc with any social life that they might have had. More than half of those interviewed said they had little time for family or personal interests and passions. We find many people are interested in climbing the greasy pole but really don't have much of an idea of what it really takes to operate effectively when they get there, David Cumberbatch, the managing director of Xancam, a business psychology company, said. They don't really have a clear understanding of what a CEO does on a day-to-day basis, whether or not they would enjoy doing that and whether or not they have the skills to do that.
3. Be mobile
Max Landsberg, a partner at Heidrick & Struggles, said that 70 per cent of what determines whether someone is CEO material is how they have performed at work. You need to prove yourself in a variety of roles and situations. Many CEOs have changed roles, companies and countries regularly. They are happy to move. Take a foreign assignment to broaden your outlook, Chris Bones, Dean of Henley Business School, suggested.
4. Hone your emotional intelligence
CEOs need to be really good at reading situations, but equally good at reading people, Virginia Merritt, managing partner of Stanton Marris, a consultancy, said. What I think marks out someone as real CEO material is the ability to understand ideas quickly and then talk with and engage people and understand very quickly how they will react to them. All good CEOs love people, Mr Landsberg said.
5. Learn to communicate
Good performers are good communicators. Outstanding leaders have the ability to communicate effectively across a very wide range of constituencies, Mr Bones said. You need to be able to talk as effectively with shareholders as workers on the shop floor. Practise by seeking out opportunities to speak.
6. See the bigger picture
One of the things on which Mr Cumberbatch assesses potential candidates to be chief executives is strategic ability, how broadly people are able to think. Can they spot issues outside their department or company that might have an impact on them? Can they think ahead about the challenges and opportunities for the business? It is no good looking at what the CEO does now if it's going to take you five years to get there, he said.
7. Find a mentor
Up to 20 per cent of what makes a good CEO is mentoring and coaching, Mr Landsberg said. Find people who can help you at turning points in your career or can help you find turning points. He suggested finding a mentor rather than having one appointed by HR. (Another 10 per cent of what makes a good CEO is formal training.)
8. Network Regularly
Manage your networks. A CEO has to have a broader horizon that goes outside the business. And the only way you are going to get that broader perspective - how your business is seen and what the business trends are that are going to affect your business - is to make sure that you are out there in your networks. And you are seen in those networks and you are picking up information and bringing it back in [to the business], Ms Merritt said.
9. Dont dither
CEOs are decisive. Good CEOs are very able to make decisions. The right decisions, Mr Landsberg said. This is something hardwired in our psyche, in his opinion, although others believe that you can learn to be more decisive. One thing CEOs are very decisive about is delegation, he said.
10. Show Passion
CEOs need to demonstrate drive for the company or industry they work in and not only for their own personal advancement, Mr Bones said. Volunteer for leadership roles to demonstrate your drive. But don't dominate. People don't want boorish or bullish behaviour, he said. People who make it to the top are motivated to take high-risk moves to advance their career, Mr Cumberbatch said.
11. Clean your shoes
If someone forgets to clean their shoes, it would say to me they are not thinking, they are not paying attention, they have not thought through some of the detail. They don't quite care enough, Mr Bones said.
12. The Top Office
Average tenure of chief executives is 6 years in the United States and five years in Europe
In the US, 38 per cent of chief executives have MBAs, against
16 per cent in Europe
Chief executives work for an average of three companies during their professional career
The average age of European chief executives is 54 years, two years younger than in America
13. Previous Research
Gardner's trait theory
Interim management trait theory
The theory of effective leadership
14. Gardner's Trait Theory of Leadership
Physical vitality and stamina
Intelligence and action-oriented judgement
Eagerness to accept responsibility
Understanding of followers and their needs
Skill in dealing with people
Need for achievement
Capacity to motivate people
Courage and resolution
John Gardner (1989) On Leadership, New York: Free Press