FCLT Global member Russell Reynolds Associates released a recent report that explores the traits of CEOs who are truly long-term, and provides guidance for boards searching for long-term oriented CEOs.

FCLT Global member Russell Reynolds Associates released a recent report that explores the traits of CEOs who are truly long-term. With analysis based on their database of psychometric data on corporate executives, Russell Reynolds contrasts the characteristics of long-term CEOs with the characteristics of those that are not, and identified several key traits of long-term CEOs:


  1. Practical: Long-term CEOs “commit to a vision or an idea, and they become incredibly resourceful in transforming that vision or idea into reality.” Acting with this focus enables them to fulfill their goals in a systematic manner.
  2. Outgoing: Long-term CEOs tend to be talkative, expressive and communicative, and proactively build working relationships, develop networks, and keep their shareholders informed. The report acknowledges that long-term CEOs are typically more caring, although the reason for this is unknown.
  3. Inclusive:  Long-term CEOs have a natural orientation toward “getting people on the bus and helping them stay there.” They invest in people, build executive teams that are better than the sum of its members, and help their leaders be more successful over time.
  4. Optimistic: To put it simply, long-term CEOs expect things will go well. This allows them to build a team that will stay engaged for the long haul “because their followers are far more likely to join the effort, and stay involved, if they (and their leader) are optimistic about the world they are creating, and their likelihood of success.”

Russell Reynolds also looked at the background of long-term CEOs and found several differences:

  1. More cross-functional experience
  2. More international experience
  3. More entrepreneurial experience

And not surprisingly, long-term CEOs tended to have longer tenure than other CEOs.

This study provides guidance for boards searching for long-term oriented CEOs.  In addition to providing the right processes and structures to encourage long-term value creation, analyzing the intrinsic traits of CEO candidates may help board find a CEO with a long-term orientation.

You can read the report in full here.