Mental Toughness,

inclusive of Decisiveness, Reliability,

& the Ability To Engage For Impact,

Makes One's Path


Rising from Chaos!

Some people’s careers take off, while others’ take longer — or even stall out.

Common wisdom says that the former attend elite MBA programs, land high-powered jobs right out of school at prestigious firms, and climb the ladder straight to the top, carefully avoiding risky moves. 

However, the data taken by a 10-year study of more than 17,000 C-suite executive assessments named “ the CEO Genome Project” with having studied 2,600 in-depth to analyze who gets to the top and how, shows a completely different picture.

The survey then took a closer look at “CEO sprinters” — those who reached the CEO role faster than the average of 24 years from their first job.

A striking finding was discovered: Sprinters don’t accelerate to the top by acquiring the perfect pedigree. They do it by making bold career moves over the course of their career that catapult them to the top. 

Three types of career catapults were found most common among the sprinters. Ninety-seven percent of them undertook at least one of these catapult experiences and close to 50% had at least two. (In contrast, only 24% had elite MBAs.)

Through these career catapults, executives build the specific behaviors that set successful CEOs apart — including decisiveness, reliability, adaptability, and the ability to engage for impact — and they get noticed for their accomplishments. The catapults are so powerful that even people in our study who never aspired to become CEO ultimately landed the position by pursuing one or more of these strategies.

The path to CEO was found rarely runs in a straight line. Sometimes one has to move backward or sideways in order to get ahead. More than 60% of sprinters took a smaller role at some point in their career. They may have started something new within their company (by launching a new product or division, for example), moved to a smaller company to take on a greater set of responsibilities, or started their own business. In each case, they used the opportunity to build something from the ground up and make an outsize impact.

Messy situations cry out for strong leadership. When faced with a crisis, emerging leaders have an opportunity to showcase their ability to assess a situation calmly, make decisions under pressure, take calculated risks, rally others around them, and persevere in the face of adversity.


Above texts are summarized from the article of “The Fastest Path to the CEO Job, According to a 10-Year Study” published in Harvard Business Review. For the full article, please click here