So who are the best CEOs of the century?
More importantly, what are the traits a business leader needs to cultivate if she or he wants immortality?
Portfolio.com, in a recent April article, created a list of the Best and Worst CEOS, ranking this century's top leaders. A board of academics helped the Conde Nast publication put the list together, and discussed not only the highest and lowest ranking CEOs, but also the traits that earned them their ranking.
Guess who came out on top? Henry Ford.
He might not have been your first choice, but you can't deny his titles: innovator, change agent, mover and shaker.
BTW, you can vote on portfolio's site for an interactive best and worst ceo list.
The university profs pointed to traits like innovation, and of course, Apple's Steve Jobs made the cut. Being a great philosopher ranked at the top, and the likes of Warren Buffett, the business Buddha made the grade, as did Katharine Graham for demonstrating social responsibility when she backed up Woodward and Bernstein over their Watergate investigation.
How about we add three other CEO brand traits to portfolio.com's list: communication, honesty and execution.
If a leader can't communicate his or her vision...rally the troops...inspire action and speak in plain language everyone can understand, then they don't get my vote. We only need to think of "The Great Communicator" , Ronald Reagan, as an example. Simple language, yet inspiring.
As far as honesty goes, it should be a default trait for all CXOs. But in the post Nixon and Clinton era, leaders who lie seem more like the status quo than the exception. This year, the chip-maker Microsemi decided to keep their CEO James Peterson after he lied about his qualifications. Twice! Once on his resume and once in a public denial. Go figure.
And lastly, let's hear it for executive execution. Any Tom, Dick or Jane can talk big ideas and vision, but real leaders act...get things done...they execute.
Sir Richard Branson is the quintessential role model. He's a leader who acts and executes and has the accomplishments to show for it (balloons, flying, and all that virgin stuff).
In his book, "Screw It, Let's Do It: (14 Lessons on Making it to the Top While Having Fun and Staying Green)" Branson talks about executing in business and in life. Main message: stop talking: just get out there and do it!
Heads-up current and would-be CEOs: advice doesn't get any better than that! Think and live like Nike and Sir Richard!