Want to be Successful… Three Traits Every CEO Needs

May 16, 2011

OpenView Partners is a Boston based venture capital firm with heavy software operational experience that invests growth capital in expansion stage software companies.

We all know that having the right CEO makes all the difference in the success of the company and the value of the exit. It is the CEO who hires and develops the management team and together with that management team they set the strategy and develop the mission, vision and values of the company.

I came across a blog by Justin Menkes about research he was doing for his new book, “Better Under Pressure: How Great Leaders Bring Out the Best in Themselves and Others” that discusses three traits that came out of his research on industry leading companies and CEOs.

The three traits he discusses in his blog that you can read about here are:

  1. Realistic optimism. Leaders with this trait possess confidence without self-delusion or irrationality. They pursue audacious goals others would typically view as impossible pipe dreams, while at the same time remaining aware of the magnitude of the challenges confronting them and the difficulties that lie ahead.
  2. Subservience to purpose. Leaders with this ability see their professional goal as so profound in importance that their lives become measured in value by how much they contribute to furthering that goal. What is more, they must be pursuing a professional goal in order to feel a purpose for living. In essence, that goal is their master and their reason for being. They do not ruminate about their purpose, because their mind finds satisfaction in its occupation with their goal. Their level of dedication to their work is a direct result of the extraordinary, remarkable importance they place on their goal.
  3. Finding order in chaos. Leaders with this trait find taking on multidimensional problems invigorating, and their ability to bring clarity to quandaries that baffle others makes their contributions invaluable.

The good news is if you don’t have these traits, Justin comments that they can be developed and learned by anyone with the desire to change their behavior.

Justin also discusses how real leadership is recursive: It’s a continuous process that starts with the leader and is echoed in that leader’s people.
I have observed over the years that people pay attention to their leader’s behavior and what is important to their leaders. You can check out my blog about this titled, As CEOs, Why How We Do Anything Means Everything or my blog on Peacetime CEOs vs Wartime CEOs.

All the best!


Venture Partner

<strong>George Roberts</strong> is a Venture Partner at OpenView. He enjoys partnering with companies and helping them achieve their goals through strategy, focus and operational execution. From 1990 to 2003, George spent 13 years at Oracle Corporation, most recently having served as Executive Vice President of North American Sales. While at Oracle, George was responsible for over $1 billion in revenue and more than 2,000 employees, reporting directly to the company’s CEO and Chairman, Larry Ellison.