Russell Reynolds Associates: What to Look For in Your Next Portfolio Company CEO

What leadership qualities will private equity portfolio company executives need in order to succeed in a post-COVID era? As PE investment professionals reassess investment and value creation strategies, it may be time to reconsider the talent required to achieve them. 

To help uncover the answers, Russell Reynolds Associates analyzed CEO leadership data through the lens of our proprietary Leadership Span framework.

Developed in collaboration with Hogan Assessments, Leadership Span assesses how well leaders perform in four key categories: Setting Strategy, Executing for Results, Leading Teams and Relationships & Influence.

Main findings include: 

  • Portfolio company CEOs tend to take a more disruptive approach to setting strategy than other CEOs. Yet they are less likely to filter ideas for feasibility, leaving them open to moving too fast or in the wrong direction.
  • Portfolio company CEO’s are more likely than the average leader to take risks. They are less likely than others to think about what happens if things go wrong, leaving them more vulnerable to failure when conditions change unexpectedly.
  • The ability to empathize with employees -- not just inspire or prod them -- has become increasingly important. Yet portfolio company CEOs are less likely than other CEOs to show vulnerability in leading their teams, putting them at risk of losing key team members and eroding morale.

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Sean Dineen, Jeffrey Warren, Carrie Ngo, Jason Steinert
Thought leadership category