C-Suite Personality: Fit for Future?

Leadership StrategiesLeadershipHealthcareAssessment and Benchmarking
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6月 21, 2018
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Leadership StrategiesLeadershipHealthcareAssessment and Benchmarking
Board members tend to gravitate toward “loud” traits in executives, such as tough-mindedness and decisiveness, when picking leaders for the company.

Pharmaceutical Executive

The Pharmaceutical Executive article, “C-Suite Personality: Fit for Future?” was co-written by Russell Reynolds Associates Consultants Waseem Noor and Saule Serikova. The piece explores new character benchmarks for pharma executives, and whether they possess the necessary transformational traits. The article is excerpted below. 

With all the different dynamics at play, the importance of having strong and stable leadership has perhaps never been more critical for biopharma.  Which brings us again to this year’s special Pharma 50 accompanying feature by guest authors at the executive search and talent advisory firm Russell Reynolds Associates.  It’s clear organizations today are facing mounting market pressures, as the traditional commercial model has become increasingly challenged.  The old methods of leadership assessment, therefore, are now myopic, the authors contend, and new perspectives on identifying and benchmarking the character profile of effective C-suite leaders – with the makeup to lead over the long term – are needed.  In the pages ahead, Russell Reynolds presents such an approach, using a framework of eight personality dimensions and applying them across all industries to extract those vital and distinctive leadership traits that will best predict “C-suite durability” in the world of biopharma. 


Leadership’s importance to organizational success is clear.  Effective leadership focuses companies around strategy and inspires staff toward goals. Whereas, wrongheaded leadership destroys confidence and hinders an organization’s ability to adapt and change.  It is also clear that today’s complex and volatile business environment has dramatically changed the leadership qualities required in the C-suite. 

Two leadership topics, however, require more nuanced answers:- What are the traits that effective and adaptive leaders need in order to lead through change and uncertainty?- How suited are the personalities of pharma executives to navigating organizations through transformation? 

This article describes a new perspective on the character profile of effective C-suite leadership across industries, and benchmarks the specific profile of executive leaders in the pharmaceutical industry. 

The challenge of assessing leadership capacity 

The last two decades have seen a doubling in annual spending on leadership assessment and development.  However, the same time period has been marked by a sharp decline in confidence in leadership assessment.  The shortcomings of old leadership assessment methods lie in two major categories.  First, they tend to be rather general and not tailored around the unique profiles of C-level positions.  Second, old methods are myopic.  They may do a fairly good job of selecting leaders able to meet the current demands of an organization and its market, but they are less successful in selecting those able to grow and adapt to the inevitable and rapid changes.  

A part of this shortsightedness may be an overinvestment in certain leadership approaches.  Specifically, a set of “loud” traits – the competencies that get noticed, such as tough-mindedness and decisiveness – are widely believed to be not just fundamental to but sufficient for successful leadership.  When hiring, however, board members and senior leaders should be mindful that when “loudness” is the entirety of an executive’s personality profile, it threatens the long-term success known as “C-suite durability.” 

To read the full article, click here.