We Asked 100 CEOs to Describe Themselves and Here’s What They Said

A lot of CEOs get a bad rep for earning hideous figures of salary. The average CEO earns more in an hour than the average employee earns in a month. Nonetheless, CEOs have the potential and power to shape the culture, society. Many CEOs are included in the reputable list Fortune’s The World’s Most Powerful People.

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I stumbled across an interesting study by Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) in which they surveyed 100 CEOs to describe themselves. Here’s a short video that captures 9 things CEOs say about themselves. The infographic below summarizes the key learnings.

9-Things-CEOs-Say-About-Themselves

Courtesy from CCL

Strengths / What CEOs consider as their assets:

1) I found it interesting that 16% of CEOs listed humor as their strongest asset.

2) 14% felt that honesty was theirs.

3) 13% viewed loyalty as their prime asset.

Weaknesses/ What CEOs considered as their liabilities:

1) 34% of CEOs viewed impatience as their weakness.

2) 10% felt they were poor listeners.

3) 10% felt they could be too judgmental

Which words they would use to describe themselves….More than 52% described themselves as being passionate, focused or driven.


  • Brett Holdeman

    I’m encouraged by the high humor grades, and extremely-pleased by their ratings for honesty and loyalty. It’s hard, I believe, to find companies that value loyalty, except by their employees for the firm; it seems the reverse has become extinct…lol

    • True that Brett. I’d be interested to research into how humor plays a role in leadership.

  • I agree on the humor part. Humor can be a powerful and effective tool in any leader’s toolbox. Maybe that’s my next article. 🙂

    • Do it! 🙂 Would love to feature again on my blog brother.

  • BRush

    very sad that only 14% said honesty as a strength. I would think maybe integrity and honesty might be a key qualifier that most people would look for if hiring or following a leader.

    • That is a sad thing! I overlooked it as I first looked at the inforgrpahic. What do you think could be done to change this mindset?

      • BRush

        I think you are correct – it is a mindset. I suspect it is at one level a character issue. I teach character development and so see the result of lacking character but sometimes the root is harder to understand. I believe we have a ” entitlement ” mentality in much of society, and I see often from the top down in government that attitude – an example be it a bad one. Selfishness contributes to this. I am quite convinced that a combination of lacking moral standards, a lack of consideration about ones reputation and little understanding of integrity by many is underlying this. To me – the solution in part is teaching and training in these areas. starting with parents but ongoing at all stages of life. see http://www.LeadershipGym.ca

    • 14% saw it as their “greatest” strength. That doesn’t mean that the ones who saw humor was their greatest strength didn’t have honesty has #2.

  • I just read the Essentialist, and so I’m probably biased, but great leaders have razor focus. Did this emerge as a finding?

  • Lynn Hare

    Same here, I’d like to hear more about humor!

  • Judy

    Humor is a great asset and can help put things into perspective. It’s good to see 16% seeing it as their greatest asset

  • RKrup

    So the area of greatest commonality amongst CEO’s is only 34%. My interpretation from this survey is that CEO’s are individuals who, outside of lacking patience, have little in common in how they see themselves.

  • AOA

    CEOs are often impatient because there is such a demand on their time however it is ironic that to be a great CEO you need to be a patient and good listener. http://www.brokenbreadclub.com

  • Loved this! Thank you for sharing it.

  • Impatience is an asset to leaders. Put another way, it’s a strong ‘sense of urgency.’ At least that’s what a very wise coach once told me when my own impatience was clear. Impatience is OK as long as we are respectful.

  • Lynn Hare

    Excellent. I’m finding that the fruit of the Spirit of patience is ours as we persevere. That’s the #1 fruit God’s cultivating in me as a leader. And the fruit of joy equips us to be strong atmosphere changers for Christ.