The best CEOs end up on the cover of Forbes or the Wall Street Journal. The worst CEOs end up testifying before Congress or worse. At the corporate leadership level the need to hire the best is obvious. This month’s Harvard Business Reviews ranking of the Best-Performing CEOs is testament to that impact.
“This is a challenging time to be a CEO. Around the world, economic growth is slow, political uncertainty undermines attempts to develop long-term plans, and shareholder activists have become powerful critics of business leaders. These forces help explain why the C-suite sometimes appears to have a revolving door.
Is it any wonder so many CEOs focus on the short term?
Against this backdrop, it’s heartening to see some top executives implement long-term strategies and establish lasting track records… This group has delivered impressive results, producing an overall financial return of 2,091%, on average.”
One result of this disproportionate impact is that CEO searches are almost always done by an executive search firm.
Innovation leadership is more difficult to quantify than CEO performance, and as a result less well understood. Yet one need only look at the winners and losers in any given technology to understand the profound impact. Ironically, some firms continue to fill key innovation positions with the best candidate in their network or the best candidate who happens to apply. While in some cases that is exactly the right thing to do, the key question to ask is “do we need the best person who applies, or do we need the best person in the country (or world).”
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