Every founder CEO begins as a “creator”. Not every founder CEO graduates from “creator” to “builder”. Creators eventually self-implode (Elon Musk, Tesla and Travis Kalanick, Uber) whereas other founders are able to scale over the long-term. For example, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos are builders (We provide a list of Builder CEOs…
Tag: CEO Personality
We are keeping our content light during the dog days of August. Perhaps you have seen our previous posts regarding CEO personalities? Our Mid-Cap Software CEO Personality Analysis made the rounds this spring (access HERE). For fun we thought we would put a new spin on the debate that has dominated NBA circles this offseason…
Successful CEOs possess each of the attributes described below. This is an unscientific analysis based upon my prior experience covering and acquiring companies (equity research analyst; M&A executive) as well as my current role as founder of CEORater. It is important to recognize that while these attributes are qualitative in nature they do impact the…
Apple no longer innovates. Look no further than its cash cow iPhone. Prior to the iPhone’s initial launch in January 2007, Motorola, Blackberry and Nokia ruled the mobile phone universe. Today, rather than driving innovation, rather than striving to leapfrog the competition, Apple is content to play a feature/functionality cat and mouse game with Samsung,…
Personality Analytics Holds the Key as to Why Apple Was More Innovative Under Steve Jobs than Tim Cook
Apple has lost its creative mojo under Tim Cook. Incremental product enhancements have become the norm, replacing a time when revolutionary new products, space age design and landmark advertising was the standard. What changed? Look no further than the CEO chair. Apple founder, CEO and creative genius Steve Jobs prematurely passed away in October 2011. Jobs’ hand-picked successor, Tim Cook, is by experience an operator with a background steeped in supply chain experience. Cook could not be more different from Jobs from a personality standpoint (see our table below).
The importance of assessing a CEO’s personality when conducting a CEO selection process (corporate boards, executive recruiters), or investment due diligence process can not be overstated. This is especially true of industry verticals marked by rapid change where the cost of having an ineffective CEO can be extremely high. It is not so rare to find a situation where a CEO, Board and institutional investor base were slow to realize that a given company’s customers were migrating elsewhere due to product obsolescence or other factors that ought to have been recognized. Few participants want to acknowledge this type of deterioration early or mid-cycle and only do so when it’s too late.
CEOs that create “adaptable” corporate cultures are less likely to lead companies that suffer irreparable declines due to product under-investment or other negligent factors. Adaptable cultures are less likely to be caught off guard and instead lead market change.
Corporate cultures are often an extension of the CEO’s personality. Yes, CEOs influence culture and corporate strategy even in mega-cap companies. Look no further than Microsoft (MSFT) during Steve Ballmer’s tenure as compared to Satya Nadella‘s time as CEO. MSFT’s product & services strategy is dramatically different as is the firm’s approach to competing and partnering with other technology companies.
We highly value the personality trait “openness” in large part because of its relationship to adaptable cultures. Steve Jobs and Tim Cook score similarly on the openness scale – 92nd percentile and 94th percentile respectively. However, looking at the personality sub-traits under openness, Jobs scores far higher than Cook in the two most creative personality sub-traits: “artistic interests” and “imagination”.
Given that Cook lags in these areas, one would need to get comfortable with the idea that a non-creative personality like his (32nd percentile and 14th percentile as detailed below) is capable of generating massive creative output from Apple’s 120,000-plus employees. This is asking too much of Tim Cook in our view. What doesn’t come naturally doesn’t come easily and may not come at all.
Our May 2018 CEO personality analytics research piece may be found here: Personality Analytics: Technology CEOs Analyzed
Our recent podcast on the subject:
We extracted data from our recent CEORater CEO Personality Analytics research findings. We have focused on the personality trait “Openness” for the purpose of this note.
Recall that CEO’s who score high along the “Openness” spectrum tend to be more adaptable and are better at navigating through changing customer markets, particularly those that may be experiencing disruption from new market entrants, changes in technology, etc.
CEO’s who score low on Openness are less adaptable and less effective in navigating choppy waters, less effective in driving growth during periods of change. Note that ACIW CEO Phil Heasley scores low on Openness (75th percentile) and how this score compares to ACIW’s financial and operational performance.
For the record we are not long or short any of the stocks mentioned in our research.
Here is an update to the post: ACIW’s Year-to-Date stock price performance vs. a peer group of FinTech stocks including: EPAY, FNF, JKHY, FISV and SQ.