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Corporate experts are often behind the curve when they try to predict the characteristics which will be most desirable in tomorrows executives. These pundits use the keep-on-keeping-on approach to forecast likely business management requirements. Their pronouncements may appear to be reasonable under current circumstances, but they dont adequately allow for the certain possibility of unpredictable change.

The future will not be identical to what we are experiencing today. With companies still suffering from an economic slow-down, experts now predict that we will need more hard-nosed, financially trained leaders in the future. Conversely, when the economy is strong and expanding rapidly, they will recommend a marketing MBA to lead the company into the great beyond. And when commodities are being sold into a competitive, mature market, they will suggest a consultant with an Ivy League background to save the operation.

But it isnt that simple. Leaders of the future will face an unknown and potentially confusing environment for which todays colleges and graduate schools cannot fully prepare. Aptitude and attitude, it turns out, may be more important than formal education. Lets review some personal qualities to look for in a budding CEO:

1. Integrity and strength of character. Honest and authentic. Displays good manners. Sets a commendable example for subordinates. Accepts responsibility. Works well with others. Shares credit when things go right, and doesnt search for someone to blame when failure occurs.

2. Common sense and native intelligence. Has the ability to think conceptually and see the big picture. Does not get bogged down in irrelevant details. Is flexible and unafraid of change. Has the capacity to innovate and be creative. Hires people who are smarter than herself.

3. Positive, confident attitude. An enthusiastic and pleasing personality. Leads from the front and walks the talk. Not afraid to delegate. Listens carefully and patiently. Knows when to be silent. Understands people and believes in them. Has empathy and compassion; is sensitive to peoples needs. Commands respect and respects others in turn.

4. A decision maker. Willing to take action. Meets challenges head on. Has the courage to take risks, and allows for reasonable mistakes in himself and others. Perseveres, even in adversity. Takes criticism in stride. Asks penetrating questions. Able to sort through conflicting advice and choose the best path.

5. A problem solver. Views problems as obstacles which can be converted to opportunities. An independent thinker, able to sift through extraneous details. Understands basic concepts which may have been used elsewhere under different circumstances, but which can now be applied to present-day dilemmas.

6. A logical and organized manager. Communicates well, both verbally and in writing. Is focused and has the mental discipline to succeed. Thinks on his feet, and adjusts his approach in midstream if necessary.

7. A proven performer. Has useful experience and an exceptional desire to pursue excellence and achieve success. A hard worker, not afraid to put in long hours. Works well under stress. Does not cut corners. Negotiates well. Understands what it takes to make a profit for the company.

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