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Magic wands bring to mind leaders like Steve Jobs or Elon Musk. The two iconic change-makers seem to be able to point at goals like shared music and electric vehicles and “presto” they became realities. That expresses the essence of what we admire in a leader. The “halo” attributes refer to things like corporate social responsibility that may give people a greater sense of purpose.
The chart shows the main source of admiration for each CEO.
The findings reveal that admiration is correlated with high levels of trust, employee and customer care, and high-quality products. The reason is simple. These are “CEO-centric,” meaning they are traceable back to a leader’s thinking and policies. People are likely to give them credit for these qualities, whereas a leader focused on social causes may not benefit as much.
We took the nine attributes and condensed them into five dimensions: Trust and Reliability, Empathy (for employees and customers), Personal Dynamism (innovation, creativity, and vision), Social Responsibility (environment and community), and Wall Street (financial performance).
The conclusion is that admiration is like author Han Suyin’s famous novel, a many-splendored thing, and most correlated with trust, empathy, and personal dynamism. These are useful as a guide to what people like, who they invest with, and want to work for.
We also looked at each leadership quality and ranked the best performing CEOs.
Sanjeev Khagram is a world-renowned scholar in global business studies. He holds a doctoral degree in economics and a doctorate in political economy from Stanford University. Khagram is a Hindu and a refugee from Idi Amin’s Uganda. He is Managing Director and Dean of the Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Jeff Cunningham is the former publisher of Forbes Magazine, former CEO of Elon Musk’s first startup, Zip2.com, managing director of Schroder Ventures IFP fund, founder of NACD Directorship Magazine, and a professor of practice in global leadership at the Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University. Follow him on Twitter andLinkedIn.
Thunderbird School of Global Management is in the vanguard of global leadership, management, and business education for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. A unit of the Arizona State University, Thunderbird has a global alumni network of over 45,000 leaders worldwide and provides a network of global Centers of Excellence in Geneva, Moscow, Dubai, Nairobi, Tokyo, Seoul, Jakarta, Washington, DC, and Los Angeles.