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What you like in a CEO candidate may not deliver results

Attributes that often get someone hired as CEO may not be the ones that drive success once they are at the helm of the company. That’s one of many provocative insights in a study by consulting firm ghSMART. The study, recently featured in Harvard Business Review, identifies characteristics that differentiate the most effective leaders.

ghSMART’s 10-year CEO Genome Project provides incisive – even counterintuitive – insight into executives whose leadership was rated most beneficial to their organizations. The most valuable traits: decisiveness, reliability, adapting proactively and influencing stakeholders to drive results for the business. Degrees and pedigree showed no impact on performance, and fiercely independent leaders trailed behind in results.

Fourteen researchers, including data scientists, economists and psychologists, pored over ghSMART’s interview data representing more than 2,000 CEO candidates seeking employment with companies of all sizes across all major industry sectors. Additionally, follow-up interviews with boards and investors provided a window into executive behavior statistically predictive of leaders’ success.

“This study debunks some of the common criteria for selecting leaders,” said Jim Goodnight, CEO of  SAS. “It not only examines why CEOs are hired, but also what happened afterward. Behaviors that land the job don’t always benefit the employer. Unexpected truths like this are hidden in every kind of data. Analytics can surface them.”

Researchers sifted through data using SAS data mining, machine learning and other analytical techniques and interactively explored results with SAS Visual Analytics. These are the attributes that rose to the top for candidates who performed best as CEO:

  1. They make decisions with speed and conviction. They understand that a wrong decision often yields better results than no decision.
  2. They engage and influence stakeholders toward the goals of the enterprise.
  3. They proactively adapt their style and their strategies to take advantage of opportunities and mitigate risks on the fly, as conditions warrant. And they aren’t daunted by setbacks.
  4. They want to be counted on and to design their organizations for reliable performance.

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Analytics Blog

Electoral College put to the math test


With the campaign two months behind us and the inauguration of Donald Trump two days away, isn’t it time to put the 2016 U.S. presidential election to bed and focus on issues that have yet to be decided? Of course not.

Headlines

Holiday Retirement earns Edelman Award

Holiday Retirement won the 2017 Franz Edelman Award for Achievement in Operations Research and the Management Sciences from INFORMS for its use of operations research (O.R.) to improve the pricing model for its more than 300 senior living communities across the United States. Read more →

U.S. Air Force and Disney receive the 2017 INFORMS Prize

The U.S. Air Force and The Walt Disney Company both received the 2017 INFORMS Prize for their pioneering and enduring integration of operations research (O.R.) and analytics programs into their organizations. The prizes were presented at the INFORMS Conference on Business Analytics & Operations Research in April in Las Vegas. Read more →

Air Force Academy’s O.R. program saluted

The U.S. Air Force Academy won the 2017 UPS George D. Smith Prize for its operations research (O.R.) program, which prepares graduates to become frontline O.R. practitioners as analysts in the Air Force. The program exposes more than 50 percent of cadets to at least one O.R. course and provides cadets the opportunity to graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in O.R. Read more →

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