What makes a successful CEO?

McKinsey leaders have interviewed hundreds of CEOs and studied performance data on thousands more. We’ve published a number of leading articles, reports, and podcasts on the subject—as well as the 2023 bestselling book CEO Excellence. In this Explainer, we lay out the fundamentals of what it takes to succeed in the top job.

Managing Shareholders in the Age of Stakeholder Capitalism

Shareholder cultivation in the age of stakeholder capitalism requires management to identify steward shareholders and then foster symbiotic relationships with them. The authors offer four sets of tools managers can use to cultivate steward shareholders. These tools are classified into four types based on two dimensions: time-to-efficacy, which refers to the time needed for the tactics to take effect, and implementation difficulty, which pertains to … [ Read more ]

A CEO’s First 1,000 Days Begins with the First 100

The initial 100 days are a time for boldness and clarity—a time when CEOs can express the purest form of their vision for the company.

  • CEOs should create an integrated narrative that lays out their ambition as well as their plans for transformation, stakeholder management, talent assessment, and communications.
  • In addition to laying out their ambition and plans, they also have an opportunity to step outside their

[ Read more ]

When sky-high executive pay is a case of common ownership

Overpaying CEOs is a mechanism that floats all boats but undermines competition and leaves consumers paying more.

The First 90 Hours: What New CEOs Should—and Shouldn’t—Do to Set the Right Tone

New leaders no longer have the luxury of a 90-day listening tour to get to know an organization, says John Quelch. He offers seven steps to prepare CEOs for a successful start, and three missteps to avoid.

Seven Myths of Corporate Governance

This paper examines seven commonly accepted myths about corporate governance. How can we expect managerial behavior and firm performance to improve, if practitioners continue to rely on myths rather than facts to guide their decisions?

How effective boards approach technology governance

As technology’s strategic importance to the business expands, management needs stronger board guidance. Four engagement models have proven useful.

Choosing a New Board Leader: Eight Questions

Our experience indicates that many boards may not have enough clarity on their roles and responsibilities. What’s needed is a deliberate process for selecting new leaders to help them achieve their goals. Using the eight questions we developed will help ensure boards are applying the same rigor and analysis in selecting the right board leader as they would for a new chief executive.

How Boards Can Focus on What Matters in Sustainability

Boards are not carving out time for high-value strategic work when it comes to environmental, social, and governance. And that’s a problem for companies pushing for sustainability.

What AI Reveals About Trust in the World’s Largest Companies

BCG’s AI-based Trust Index enables companies to break down stakeholder perceptions of their trustworthiness. Analyses based on the Index have yielded valuable insights about what builds, sustains, or destroys trust.

Former Best Buy Chief Hubert Joly’s 10 Keys To CEO Transition

One of Hubert Joly’s proudest accomplishments is the successful CEO transition his team orchestrated when he stepped down as CEO of Best Buy. Here’s how he did it.

10 Proactive Questions Every Board Member Should Be Asking

Boards only see what they’re presented with and can easily become passive recipients of agendas created by powerful CEOs and senior executives. And corporate failure raises questions as to what the board knew and what more it could have done. Board members can play a transformational role in a company by asking questions that create a space for deep reflection and strategic change — not … [ Read more ]

Four Common Biases in Boardroom Culture

What behavioral psychology can tell you about the human dynamics of your board.

Should You Reward Your CEO with Stock Options?

Stock options are both widely used and widely questioned. Research demonstrates that, contrary to stock option boosters, this form of CEO compensation is not a panacea, and there exist situations where issuing them is damaging. Indeed, now that the accounting profession has established that stock options are a real cost to business, either these expenditures should lead to real returns to shareholders or they should … [ Read more ]

Simplifying Cybersecurity

Have our institutions become too complex to secure?

How board directors can advance racial justice

Three commitments to help companies promote diversity, equity, and inclusion — and resist the status quo.

What Machine Learning Teaches Us about CEO Leadership Style

Tarun Khanna and Prithwiraj Choudhury use machine-learning technology to look for links between a CEO’s communication style and company performance.