You Be the Judge
Here’s a simple exercise to get you thinking about personality traits and their function in successful leadership.
First, choose from the following list five attributes that you would look for in an ideal chief risk officer.
Sense of humor
Next, choose three military, three political, and three business leaders whose personal qualities you believe would make them effective
chief risk officers.
GREAT MILITARY LEADERS
Alexander the Great
GREAT POLITICAL FIGURES
Catherine the Great
Frederick the Great
William Pitt the
GREAT BUSINESS LEADERS
John D. Rockefeller
Thomas Watson Jr.
Thomas Watson Sr.
Daniel Gerber Jr.
Take a moment to think about your choices. Why did you select some leaders and not others? Did you consider their attributes or their
accomplishments and the impact these had on industry or society? Did you take into account the means they took to achieve their goals?
Did they build for the future, or was their legacy dismantled once they departed the scene? What criteria did you use in making your
choice? Did you choose leaders who exhibited the five character traits that you’d selected first?
Tolerance for stress
Robert E. Lee
Ulysses S. Grant
Otto von Bismarck
David Lloyd George
We performed this exercise in a
presentation at the 2011 ERM Symposium
in Chicago. Of the 45 personal character
traits we listed, 42 received at least one
vote. The choices for specific traits broke
down as follows:
Judgment, competence, communication
36 percent to 38 percent;
Responsibility, insight, realism, vision,
tolerance for stress—
20 percent to 23 percent;
Persuasiveness, decisiveness, diplomatic
skills, interpersonal skills, adaptability,
fortitude, leadership motivation, and
10 percent to 15 percent.
Among the military leaders,
26 of 27 received votes.
The largest vote-getters were:
Lee, Grant, Alexander the Great,
Charlemagne, King Arthur, and
13 percent to 16 percent.
Among the political leaders, 20 of the 27
we listed received one or more votes.
Those receiving the most votes were:
Franklin, Washington, King Solomon,
21 percent to 29 percent;
Roosevelt, Jefferson, Kennedy, and
10 percent to 18 percent.
For business leaders, 20 of the 27 listed
received votes. Specifically:
Welch, Walton, Jobs, Gates—
24 percent to 29 percent;
Sloan, Rockefeller, Ford, Disney, Morgan,
11 percent to 19 percent.