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This is exactly what it takes to be a CEO

This is exactly what it takes to be a CEO. Source: Getty

If you have your sights set on becoming a chief executive, the criteria to do so looks a lot different to what it did a decade ago. 

According to the 2019 Global Route to the Top report, which analysed 906 current CEOs in Australia and around the world, found most of them share a particular set of skills.

"The job of the CEO continues to expand, and the skills required for the role today are quite different than a decade ago," Jeff Sanders, vice chairman and co-managing partner of Heidrick & Struggles said.

While CEOs definitely have a managerial role, they also have to be forward-thinkers.

"They have to lead through constant digital and business disruption, serve as inspirational leaders, foster a diverse and inclusive workplace culture, maintain good relationships with multiple stakeholder groups and, increasingly, focus on long-term sustainability; in other words, today's CEOs have to accomplish everything their predecessors did, and much more." 

Here are the three common traits the chief executives share:

1. Previous C-suite experience

According to the report, 76 per cent of all CEOs have had previous C-suite experience. C-suite refers to a corporate title given to company-level executives – for example, chief financial officer or chief operations officer. 

Of that figure, 39 per cent have had previous CEO experience, 21 per cent have had previous COO experience and 18 per cent had previous CFO experience. 

Interestingly, 24 per cent of all CEOs surveyed in the report had no previous C-suite experience, and only 5 per cent of all CEOs globally had an entrepreneurial background.

2. Advanced degree

According to the report, an advanced degree, or a post-graduate degree, is an increasingly frequent characteristic of CEOs, particularly a Master of Business Administration.

Around 64 per cent of newly appointed CEOs (those appointed in 2019) hold an advanced degree, compared with their just 46 per cent of their veteran counterparts (those who have been in the role for 15 years or more).

For women, this number increases. 

Of the 5 per cent of women who make up the total number of CEOs globally, 71 per cent are hold advanced degrees, compared with 58 per cent of men.

3. Mature age

The average age of a CEO is 56, with the average age at appointment being 50. 

The youngest CEO, from Germany, is 30 – and the oldest is 89 in the United States.

Now read: First she applied to be an Uber driver, then she became a CEO

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