The Fastest Path to the CEO Job, According to a 10-Year Study

January 31, 2018 | Publication

A 10-year study of more than 17,000 C-suite executive assessments looked at who gets to the top and how. A close look at “CEO sprinters” — those who reached the CEO role faster than the average of 24 years from their first job — shows that formative experiences play a key role. Specifically, these ladder-climbers made bold career moves that catapulted them to the top ahead of others. Three types of career catapults were most common. First, lateral or even backward moves allowed the future CEO to build something from the ground up (like leaving a large, prestigious company to start their own business). Second, big leaps allowed the future CEO to skip a level, or even two levels, even if they felt unready. And third, big messes brought the opportunity to turn around a failing unit or division.