What Boards Want In Their Executives

The Wall Street Journal has a good interview with Korn/Ferry International CEO Gary Burnison on what boards want in their executives these days.

Key takeaways: “For the boardroom or the C-suite, the technical competencies are a starting point. What we’ve seen through our research is that the No. 1 predictor of executive success is learning agility. So we want to get a real line of sight into a person’s thinking style and leadership style. Right now, you’re seeing me how I want you to see me. What you really want to know is ‘How does Gary make decisions under pressure?'”

“It comes down to people’s willingness to grow, to learn, to have insatiable curiosity. Think about the levers of growth that a CEO has. You can consolidate, or tap [new markets], or innovate. When it comes down to the last two, particularly innovation, you want a workforce that is incredibly curious.”

Another interesting insight is how a CEO builds her team:

“A CEO only has an average tenure today of five years. You have 20 quarters to show that you have a winning team. There is a trade-off between knowing in your heart that you’ve got to empower people, you’ve got to develop them. But then there’s the other side, that says, ‘Oh, my gosh. I’ve got to win this next game.'”

“The strategic partner to the CEO should be the CHRO [chief human-resources officer] in almost any organization. It shouldn’t be the CFO. The person that is responsible for people should be the biggest lever that a CEO can pull. Too often, it’s not.”

The full interview is worth watching:

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