(How) can one recognize a bad CEO upfront?

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(How) can one recognize a bad CEO upfront?
Is it possible to see upfront if a CEO is likely to perform bad after (s)he is appointed?

Pam Brooks
Yes you can tell if you know what you are looking for. I am a certified behavior analyst and work with a large executive staffing firm here in the US. I have helped them with all of their top placements and they have been amazingly accurate for the past three years. (Thinking, Behaviors, Motivation) the three keys to understand.

Recognizing a Bad CEO
Gopalakrishna Bhat, Member
I am not sure if you are referring to the behavioral or functional aspect of CEO. In my opinion, one can identify behavioral aspects very quickly.
However the functional part can not be evaluated immediately. There are different ways for performing same task though! Time and results would answer that.

Recognizing a Bad CEO
Gilbert Mlongoti Sinjani, Member
This is a great question. My question to you is: what role is (s)he coming to perform? Transformational (leading change) or transactional (business as usual)?
Irrespective, you can consider the values of both the incoming CEO and those of the firm (value dynamics). Remember that a firm takes on (to a great extent) the values of its CEO, which form the firm's values and culture. Values (from cultures and beliefs) drive behaviour which drives performance.
The values of the CEO can be determined from past performance (consider the culture created in the firm, business unit, or department (s)he is coming from) versus the firm (s)he is coming to. If there is a close relationship then (s)he is likely to perform well in a transactional setting, otherwise (s)he will perform well in transforming the firm.
The board should determine this before selecting a CEO whether from within or without of the firm.

Recognizing a Bad CEO
Tj de Nordwall, Member
There's no science behind this observation but my own observations (during 10 yr consulting):
- The new CEOs who had most acceptance and ruffled the least feathers (causing stress), were the ones who came in and first spent some time listening to people and evaluating situations before taking action.
- The ones least appreciated came in and would be making significant changes from day 1, sometimes "silly" changes (e.g. dresscode), just to make a statement (I'm here and I'm the boss).

Recognizing a Good CEO
D. Liely, Member
I agree wholeheartedly with Tj. It has been my experience over 30 years under various leaders in various roles, transactional, etc., that those who came in as learners/listeners received the most respect and had the greatest impact.


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