Gabazira's blog

The Effectiveness-Lab

Moulding CEOs – the different ingredients

What are CEOs made of? How are these creatures at the top of institutions made? And we are sure you all have heard or used phrases like leaders are born. And that if you weren’t born a leader, you are condemned to never break the ceiling to the top of the organisation. Wrong, we opine at the Effectiveness lab!

The truth is, CEOs are made on earth. The making of a CEO may happen at a formal school where leadership skills are taught or in society (work and community) where CEO candidates learn from the behaviour of those around them. And it’s also a hybrid process where CEOs both go to school plus learn on the job. Out of school, CEO candidates learn from people both in leadership and non-leadership positions.

Therefore, on this blog, we don’t subscribe to the school of thought that you are born a leader. We need to help the world not to confuse IQ and leadership ability. You are born with a certain IQ and personality but you can become a successful leader even with average IQ and ‘learnt’ behaviour.

And because leaders are made on earth, we also know that they come in different ilk.

If leaders were products, you have two pure and two hybrid types:

  • CEOs educated, bred and cultured as per the isms of a particular country. For example, a CEO trained exclusively in Uganda exhibits Ugandan solid social and political philosophies in their management style. With management/leadership theorem a global product, moreover, that is increasingly free to all via the world’s ‘knowledge-friend’ Google, Social and political philosophies are the new ‘differentiators’ in management/leadership education. At the Effectiveness lab, we call this leader type the ‘geographically-inclined’ CEO. This type of CEO traditionally follows a clear rubric into leadership influenced by home country traits.
  • The second CEO type is set apart by the ‘physical’ raw material that shapes a CEO product. In effect, it’s the ‘physical’ manifestation of the CEO figure. Physicality is a dominant but taken-for-granted factor in CEO formation. Perhaps it’s taken for granted because we see it every day and live with it—familiarity breeds normalisation, even of what may not be typical. We will again use the example of Uganda, the Pearl of Africa. A typical CEO in Uganda has the following physical manifestations: most likely a man, in their fourth decade of life and above, generally fat, as they tend to live a sedentary life and have servants around them, a tad corrupted, and since we are a tribal society, they are likely to come from the tribe that wields the most power. At the Effectiveness lab, we call this the ‘hardware-inclined’ CEO. It’s interesting to note that while CEO type one mostly ascends the CEO pedestal whenever they become expert enough in country-culture (whatever business) and other software, the hardware-inclined CEO ascendency may be determined by the fact that they possess particular hardware and not necessarily merit. For example, if you are of a specific dominant sex, tribe, etc., you get the boss’s job. It’s not always meritocratic, this CEO type.

And as usual, you have the in-between:

    The CEO as a hybrid between the ‘geographically-inclined/software-specific’ vs the ‘hardware-inclined’ CEO. Readers may wonder whether the hybrid type isn’t the ultimate and only outcome for CEO type. Well, not always. And we again use Uganda’s example to elaborate this – a female CEO in this country isn’t your typical CEO, and they aren’t, therefore, the archetypal ‘hardware-inclined’ CEO. Most female bosses in Uganda fall under the ‘geographically/software-inclined’ CEO type. However – they may pick up certain elements from the other dominant variant for example tribe.
    The last CEO type is a hodgepodge of factors – and that, by the way, gives a much more rounded, informed, tolerant and multi-context fitting CEO product. The Effectiveness lab calls this CEO the ‘third-culture‘ CEO. This CEO profile is: groomed in a culture other than their parents/country of nationality and lived in a different country/countries during a significant part of their childhood development years. This CEO is the typical ‘global’ product – akin to the global movement and accompanying behaviour demands. This CEO is a combination of all, most of the above or one of the CEO types above—the more variants in the mix, the more resilient the CEO product.

It’s important to note that culture and political philosophy have significant sway on the CEO type you end up with; the debate whether CEOs are shaped in school or society still rages; many questions about CEO making are yet to be answered comprehensively: should the MBA or equivalent academic qualifications continue to be a factor in CEO appointment? Should CEOs get appointed for their merit against given standards or the mere possession of specific hardware?

And finally, we can’t disregard how much globalisation is helping shape the ‘better’ CEO product.

The choice of what CEO type works best for which organisation or individual is beyond the scope of this blog. We have given the moulds that shape CEOs, the choice of the best-fit CEO is yours.

The least you can do come Monday is to position your CEO, without bias, on the CEO type continuum. It may help you work with the beast better, if not already.


One response to “Moulding CEOs – the different ingredients”

  1. Hi Violet and Gabazira’s blog,

    Did you ever sign me up for this? I have sent several comments to my colleague, Apollo Gabazira over four years (Gabazira’s Blog), but having written sometimes a lengthy response I am prevented from getting into WordPress to post. This has just happened again to his last, interesting blog. The world of the password is a pain in the boodoo. Any ideas to help me through this?




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About Me

Apollo B. Gabazira is an Ugandan OD. junkie fascinated by matters that render organisations/individuals effective or not. He blogs on effective leadership and management. He is a devoted green-farmer and breeds the Ayrshire cow at Nakabugu, Luuka district, Uganda. Apollo is quite effective at what he chooses to do.


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