Lately, I’ve been exposed to far too many toxic per­son­al­i­ties. In the mid­dle of try­ing to dis­sect and get to the bot­tom of why I sub­ject myself to this, I got side­tracked on how many of these hor­ri­ble peo­ple pride them­selves on their per­son­al­ity flaws. I orig­i­nally sent a ver­sion of this to some­one just to fuss. There was a blog request put in, so here I am.

Mul­ti­ple times in the last month, I’ve heard some­one excuse their inabil­ity to con­vey an idea, or to exe­cute (!!!) those ideas, to their so-called “CEO personality.”

When some­one says some­thing like that, I hear “I think I have a right to be an utter jack­ass, because I want to make a lot of money and think my ideas are grandiose. I see myself as an idea man, not a worker, never mind the fact that the ideas aren’t really mine.”

Now don’t get me wrong, I know some peo­ple who have made it to CEO sta­tus and man­aged for a lit­tle while on pure avarice and nar­cis­sism, but usu­ally that falls apart with­out tal­ent and/or a great sup­port net­work to catch you when you fall. And sup­port net­works are hard to come by if you’re just a jack­ass. A vision­ary jack­ass, maybe, but CEO men­tal­ity isn’t tied up in being an acer­bic personality.

When a per­son is an actual “CEO per­son­al­ity” they have a dra­mat­i­cally dif­fer­ent mind­set. I have known quite a few CEOs in my life­time. The suc­cess­ful ones are intel­li­gent, able to put a plan in action, in con­trol, and dri­ven. Quite often, CEO per­son­al­i­ties are CEOs, or at least exec­u­tives well on their way.

The last time some­one ticked me off, I went look­ing to see if I was miss­ing some­thing in the CEO per­son­al­ity stereotype.

Here’s what I found, from Under 30 CEO:

Sev­eral stud­ies have been done on the per­son­al­ity traits of CEOs, and they found five dis­tinct traits amongst them:

  • A need for achievement
  • A locus of control
  • Risk-taking propen­si­ties
  • Tol­er­ance of ambiguity
  • A Type-A personality

These five qual­i­ties are not found in every sin­gle CEO, how­ever. The amount and strength of the char­ac­ter­is­tics can often be deter­mined when look­ing at what moti­vates CEOs. Largely, CEOs can be said to be moti­vated by three things:

  • Achieve­ment, where hit­ting tar­gets is the main inter­est and dri­ving force for the person,
  • Affil­i­a­tion, the desire to cre­ate some­thing that lasts to ben­e­fit fam­ily or legal heirs,
  • Or power, the need to be in charge of other people.

The only thing in com­mon I see with the failed CEOs I have known, or other alleged CEO per­son­al­i­ties, is a desire for power. Greed is not the same as want­ing a legacy. Steal­ing other people’s ideas is not the same as being an “idea man.” If you’re some­one who doesn’t let tri­fles like ethics or hard work inter­fere with your get-rich-quick schemes, you prob­a­bly are not a true CEO personality.

Under­stand, I wouldn’t work inside a typ­i­cal CEO, etc frame­work myself, so it’s fair to say I have a gen­eral dis­dain for the con­cept. But to say “I’m a CEO per­son­al­ity” when you really mean petu­lant spoiled gen­try look­ing down at the bour­geois you hire to do your work for you, all the time claim­ing your inat­ten­tion to detail is really your results-oriented drive, and other peo­ple just don’t under­stand the way your brain, it works on this HIGHER LEVEL and sees things other peo­ple can’t see, is deluded and specious.

Thank you for your atten­tion. That felt good to get off my chest.


One Response to CEO Mentality

  1. Brian Hurowitz says:

    you for­got about the trait of humility

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