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What Does a CEO Brain Profile Look Like?

by | Aug 13, 2020

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CEOs and key leaders need to be more agile than ever in today’s onslaught of change. This requires a stretch for many leaders.

Our data on CEOs shows that they are uniquely positioned to be able to flex between competing demands for their thinking and decision making. In a recent CEO conversation, these four areas emerged as the mental demands most needed today:

  1. The ability to analyse facts and data, apply critical thinking to make meaning of this information and leverage technical solutions for accelerated decision making and problem solving
  2. The ability to plan and execute new measures ‘on demand’ and ensure tactics are in place ito respond to a rapidly changing risk environment and safety concerns
  3. The ability to listen with great empathy to all stakeholders (leaders, associates, partners and customers), while communicating more than ever to ensure all are engaged
  4. The ability to pivot strategically as disruption continues using creative resourcefulness and innovation to address previously unforeseen challenges

As it turns out, those issues fall into each quadrant of the Whole Brain® Thinking Model. In this video, we explore why CEOs are best positioned to respond. 

Watch the video or read the transcript below. 


“People really want to understand how they can get inside the brains of CEOs. And one of the things that’s exciting about our research is that we have an extensive database and did a study not too long ago of recent CEOs, several thousand CEOs, looking at what makes them tick from a thinking perspective.

And I was curious to see whether the data had changed because this is research that we’ve been doing for many years.

And there is a distinct difference in the way CEOs think from most other occupations. They tend to be more multi dominant in their thinking. Three percent of the population has a balanced profile across all four quadrants of the Whole Brain® Thinking model. You have a much higher percentage of that profile in the CEO occupation group.

Why is that?

They have to interact with all aspects of the business. 

They’re interacting with the technical side of the organisation. They have to deal with the people side of the organisation. They must focus on execution. And of course they need to provide the vision and long-term thinking and strategy for the organisation.

Most of the CEOs I work with get frustrated because they can see it all in their mind’s eye. 

They don’t understand why others don’t think that way. 

Not too long along I was with a team that was getting ready to go into a big IPO transition, and the CEO was so frustrated because he said, “You know everybody’s just thinking about their own functional silo and freaking out about what they need.” 

We used the model and his profile and the profiles of the team to help the whole team understand that they needed to actually be thinking like the CEO and seeing the other perspectives from the other functional viewpoints. 

CEOs are interesting in that even if they’re not truly multi dominant in their profile, the most successful CEOs out there will surround themselves with people who make sure that they’re seeing all four of those perspectives. 

And then of course they listen to those perspectives, and that’s what makes them really successful.”

Interested in learning more about Whole Brain® Thinking and how it can help leaders pivot when disruption occurs?  Get in touch with Herrmann.

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This article was originally published on our US site. It has been updated and republished here to ensure our readers don’t miss out on valuable information.

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