Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

Seek out and listen to advisors

Perspective: Guard against hubris

It’s easy for CEOs to become overconfident. While they must push ahead in spite of naysayers at times, they can also tune out critics once they learn to trust their own instincts. Their conviction can increase because subordinates tend to say only what bosses want to hear. Before long, CEOs forget how to say “I don’t know,” cease asking for help or feedback, and dismiss all criticism.

Excellent CEOs form a small group of trusted colleagues to provide discreet, unfiltered advice—including the kind that hasn’t been asked for but is important to hear.

They also stay in touch with how the work really gets done in the organization by getting out of boardrooms, conference centers, and corporate jets to spend time with rank-and-file employees. This is not only grounding for the CEO, but also motivating for all involved.

Finally, excellent CEOs keep their role in perspective by reminding themselves it is temporary and does not define or limit their self-worth and importance in the world. Whereas Steve Jobs advised college graduates, “Stay hungry, stay foolish,” we urge CEOs to “Stay hungry, stay humble.”

Source: McKinsey - The mindsets and practices of excellent CEOs