Spencer Stuart: Want to be a CEO? Five Essential Qualities Boards Look For

Cathy Anterasian, leader of Spencer Stuart’s CEO Succession Services, talks with Forbes about the fundamentals boards should seek in their organizations' next CEO and how aspiring leaders can position themselves for the top role.

Cathy shares the questions boards should ask themselves to ensure CEO candidates have the skills needed to succeed:

  • Is this leader a good strategist?
  • Is this leader a good operator?
  • Can this leader have an impact on the culture?
  • Can this leader build followership?
  • Does this leader show stretch potential?

So what really matters to the people who give you the job? At the moment of truth—when a board votes to hand over the keys to the castle, what’s the list of “must-haves” that guides the decision? And what can aspiring leaders learn from the list, to prepare for the hoped-for day?

Cathy Anterasian, Spencer Stuart’s Senior Partner and Practice Leader of CEO Succession in North America has guided over fifty chief exec transitions over the past several years, she’s got the street cred to point out the pattern. “Trust me,” she said with quiet assurance, “it’s a fundamental and enduring list.”

“It’s not quite ‘checking the boxes’ per se says Cathy. The qualities a board looks for are really capabilities—and they can manifest themselves differently in different people. Inevitably the capabilities reflect a cluster of skills, knowledge and behaviors. Also, board decisions always involve trade-offs. No candidate is brilliant in everything, and committees will also consider how a candidate’s strengths complement the team he or she will work with. But the core five capabilities are still the basis of what they probe.”

To read the full interview with Forbes, click here.

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