Distilling the Wisdom of C.E.O.’s

by Adam Bryant for The New York Times, April 16th, 2011.

This article was adapted from “The Corner Office: Indispensable and Unexpected Lessons From CEOs on How to Lead and Succeed,” byAdam Bryant, author of the weekly “Corner Office” column in The New York Times. The book, published Tuesday by Times Books, analyzes the broader lessons that emerge from his interviews with more than 70 leaders.

IMAGINE 100 people working at a large company. They’re all middle managers, around 35 years old. They’re all smart. All collegial. All hard-working. They all have positive attitudes. They’re all good communicators.

So what will determine who gets the next promotion, and the one after that? Which of them, when the time comes, will get that corner office?

In other words, what does it take to lead an organization — whether it’s a sports team, a nonprofit, a start-up or a multinational corporation? What are the X factors?

Interviews I conducted with more than 70 chief executives and other leaders for Corner Office in The New York Times point to five essentials for success — qualities that most of those C.E.O.’s share and look for in people they hire.

The good news: these traits are not genetic. It’s not as if you have to be tall or left-handed. These qualities are developed through attitude, habit and discipline — factors that are within your control. They will make you stand out. They will make you a better employee, manager and leader. They will lift the trajectory of your career and speed your progress. (continue reading… )

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