Exceptional leadership traits differ from one industry to another, as each of them demands a different set of qualities from leaders to ensure success. So, no perfect mix of behaviors makes a CEO ‘the best.’ However, several attributes and actions surely help some CEOs stand apart from the rest.

Ranging from organizational alignment to impactful engagement, we have listed a few traits that set the world’s best CEOs apart. Let’s take a look at them.

  1. Organizational Alignment: Align Talent and Values 

A significant step that sets the world’s best CEOs apart is their thinking about their organization’s job roles and the people that fill those roles. What roles create the most value? Are these roles filled with top talent? Aligning talent with organizational priorities is what sets CEOs apart. It includes working on low performers while elevating the strong ones.

The best CEOs go beyond engagement. They measure and manage the soft dimensions (role clarity, degree of external orientation, innovation procedures, etc.) that correlate with business performance.

Also, excellent CEOs understand the criticality of being clear about their organizational structure. Which procedures keep your organization stable? In which procedures do you want to drive agility and speed? Clear communication about such concepts from the CEOs obliterates ambiguity and uncertainty about procedures from the root, thus ensuring a much more aligned work culture. 

  1. Focus on Team Dynamics Instead of Team Mechanics. 

An excellent quality of some of the world’s best CEOs is how they focus on their team dynamics instead of team mechanics. Misalignment of viewpoints and a mismanaged relationship between CEOs and their team is common. However, this problem is easily tackled by CEOs who know how to form a balanced relationship with their employees – distanced enough to be objective but close enough to gain loyalty. Instead of focusing on setting up norms (the mechanical approach), excellent CEOs focus on building balanced relationships, as mentioned above (the dynamic approach), which really sets them apart.

  1. Adapting Proactively. 

It is a well-known fact that excellent CEOs are quick adapters. They adapt proactively in order to effectively deal with unexpected and unprecedented situations. To do so, they devote a significant chunk of their time toward thinking about the long term. They attentively plug into broad information flows, scan wide networks, refer to diverse data sources, and build up their knowledge base. As a result, they can trace early signals and sense changes earlier. By making strategic moves to deal with these ‘expected’ changes, they take a proactive approach and stay ahead of the game.

Also, adaptable CEOs recognize their setbacks & failures as an integral part of the change and use them as opportunities to grow. It helps them to adapt proactively and make the right moves ahead of time. 

  1. Impactfully Engaging with Employees, Board, and External Stakeholders. 

Another common quality that some of the world’s best CEOs share is their ability to impactfully engage with employees, board members, and external stakeholders.

As we discussed earlier, focusing on team dynamics helps CEOs gain their employees’ trust & loyalty while enabling them to evaluate their work objectively. This approach, combined with the CEOs’ efforts to discover critical drivers of solid performances, allows them to engage impactfully with employees and steer their actions in the right direction.

When it comes to impactful engagement with the board, excellent CEOs ensure to focus on playing a significant role in shaping the board’s thinking by helping them focus on forward-looking items that would benefit both them as well as the organization.

To impactfully engage with external stakeholders, the best CEOs integrate their organization’s social purpose with the core business competencies inextricably. They articulate decisions and formulate a clear view of how much time they have to spend on such stakeholders to drive impactful engagement.


There can never be a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach when it comes to outstanding leadership. However, there is undoubtedly a set of essential behaviors that CEOs can pay attention to so that they can improve their organization’s performance and help their business to thrive in a volatile environment. This article summarized a few such behaviors. Being knowledgeable of these essential traits can help you become an exceptional CEO.