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How’s Your Integrity? 21st Century CEO Success Characteristics


How’s Your Integrity? 21st Century CEO Success Characteristics

I recently polled CEOs, asking the question: “What are the characteristics that are a must for successful CEOs in the 21st century?” Responses were received from CEOS and C-suite leaders from over 10 countries. Our top 5 list of 21st century CEO characteristics includes:

1. Inspirational Leadership
2. Exceptional Team Builder
3. Unimpeachable Integrity
4. Clear Communicator
5. Compelling Visionary

Unimpeachable Integrity was the 3rd leading vote getter, receiving 66 mentions and can be described by honesty, operating ethically, having a strong moral compass, demonstrating personal accountability and showing the courage to always do what is right. Given the environment, It was no surprise to see Unimpeachable Integrity make the top 5 list.

Earlier this year, the Edelman Trust Barometer reported that only 38% trust information about a company that comes from a CEO, down from 50% last year and the biggest drop since Edelman started doing their survey 12 years ago.

Another poll conducted by Weber Shandwick showed that only 14% of American executives hold a positive view of chief executives. This estimate is probably even lower among among the general public.

So it is time for a reset of CEO reputations and CEO brands. What can CEOs do to demonstrate unimpeachable integrity? More than anyone else at the firm, it’s the CEO who needs to create trust. Trust is a function of both capability – your skills, results and track record — and character. Character has to do with your integrity, your motives and your intent with others. So how’s your capability, the level of trust you create and your integrity?

And as CEO, are you explicit about your values? The core values you’d fall on the sword for? Put another way, if you had to put your top 5 values on a t-shirt and wear that t shirt around the office, could you credibly do it?

Have you explicitly defined the emotional experiences you’d like others to experience when you interact with them? Creating positive emotional experiences for others is critical in building trust and reputation. And it is important for your personal brand, just as it is in building the brand of your company and its products and services.

Make your values explicit and walk the talk. Define intended emotional experiences for others and hold yourself accountable to these behaviors. Talk straight and do what’s right. These are all keys for demonstrating unimpeachable integrity. So, if you graded yourself on a scale of 1 to 10, what’s the level of trust you create? What’s the level of integrity you demonstrate?

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