What it takes to succeed.

April 22nd, 2011

“Distilling the Wisdom of C.E.O.’s” was the headline on the front page of Sunday’s New York Times’ business section. And it pulled me right in to great satisfaction.

The article was adapted from “The Corner Office: Indispensable and Unexpected Lessons from CEOs on How to Lead and Succeed,” by Adam Bryant, who has interviewed more than 70 chief executives over the years for his weekly NYT “Corner Office” column. This piece shares some enlightening knowledge from which I think anyone can benefit, regardless of industry or role.

Bryant zeroes in here on five qualities that the CEOs he interviewed share and look for in the people they hire. He calls these qualities the “five essentials for success.” Beyond the expected intelligence, strong work ethic, good communication skills and positive attitude, all five of these essentials are attributes that can be learned and developed. All are within your control.

The five essentials are: passionate curiosity, battle-hardened confidence, team smarts, a simple mindset and fearlessness. Here are the points under each that jumped off the page at me.

Passionate Curiosity

·      An infectious sense of fascination that some people have with everything around them.

·      There’s an energy from people engaged with the world and wanting to know more.

·      It’s indispensable no matter what the job.

·      They can marshal the collective energy of their employees by asking the right questions.

Battle-hardened Confidence

·      People who embrace adversity and have a track record of overcoming it.

·      The kind of person who takes ownership of challenges.

·      A belief in the ability to shape events and circumstances by making the most of what they can control.

·      A positive attitude mixed with a sense of purpose and determination.

Team Smarts

·      Understanding how teams work and how to get the most out of the group.

·      Sensing how people react to one another, not just how they act.

·      The ability to recognize the players the team needs and how to bring them together around a common goal.

Simple Mindset

·      Be concise, get to the point, make it simple.


·      Calculated and informed risk-taking.

·      Seeing an opportunity even though things are not broken.

All of these traits can be developed. And I think you’ll agree that they can make you a better employee, manager or chief executive.






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