The CEO Test

  • Can you develop a simple plan for your strategy? Simplifying complexity is a leader’s superpower.
  • Can you make the culture real—and matter? It’s about walking the talk.
  • Can you build teams that are true teams? They are key to driving strategy.
  • Can you lead transformation? The status quo is enormously powerful, and the enemy of change.
  • Can you really listen? Danger signals can be faint, and bad news travels slowly.
  • Can you handle a crisis? Avoid the predictable mistakes that trip up so many leaders.
  • Can you master the inner game of leadership? The conflicting demands and challenges must be managed.
It started with a simple idea: What if I interviewed CEOs and never asked them a single question about their companies?  That “what if” led to more than 600 in-depth interviews about their key leadership lessons—in the “Corner Office” column I created for The New York Times and now on LinkedIn—as well as three books that capture the clear patterns that emerged from all those conversations.

My latest book is: THE CEO Test: Master the Challenges that Make or Break All Leaders, published by Harvard Business Review Press. I wrote it with Kevin Sharer, the former CEO of biotech giant Amgen, and we combine the breadth and depth of our experience to identify the key reasons why leaders at all levels succeed or fail in their roles, and we provide a highly practical playbook for navigating those challenges.

After a 30-year career in journalism, I joined The ExCo Group as a managing director. We’re a senior leadership development and executive mentoring firm, with a deep bench of mentors who are former CEOs or global business leaders. And I’m continuing to interview leaders on LinkedIn, where you can find my four widely read series with CEOs, board directors, prominent Black executives, and chief human resources officers.

Leadership is hard, and those who do it well can lift their teams and organizations. My goal is to share those insights with readers and audiences to help elevate their leadership skills.