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.
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.