How Do You Rate? A CEO’s Quick Assessment

I have a process that helps me make a quick assessment when I meet another leader for the first time. One has to be careful about a premature, subjective view and sometimes I’m wrong.  But more often than not, the assessment works for me.  Here is the process:

The person looks me in the eye, has a real handshake and smiles easily and often.

They ask lots of thoughtful questions that are based on understanding my objectives and situation.

They are exceptional listeners; often checking to make sure they understand.

They are precise with their use of words.

They are clear and have a purpose that is directly stated.

She/he uses humor, laughs easily.

If service people are around (e.g. restaurant staff) they are kind and courteous.

They talk little about themselves and try and focus the discussion on forward movement of ideas.

They are definitive regarding what they want/expect next.

They meet their commitments however small.

They are never arrogant or condescending regardless of their position, stature, or leverage.

Last week I met an executive for the first time that checked off positive on almost all of the above items. It was a very important meeting. After our discussion he told me that his leadership philosophy was the 3 L’s: Listen, Learn, Lead. This person is already at a senior executive level. But my quick assessment is that he has a bigger leadership future ahead.

For the next week try this assessment process. It may help you determine the quality of the person you’re working with, as well as yourself.

Living in the Triangle,


  1. lorne says:

    I agree Thomas . Being a leader is mostly choosing a mind -set and acting wih purpose driven behavior vs. natural talent and position of authority.


  2. Thomas Croteau says:

    In my sales career I have ad the occasion of meeting many c level people.
    I have seen dictators and delegators. The observation techniques will be helpful ro me in my quest to be more effective in dealing with the key decision makers
    I read somewhere

    “The Nature / Nurture argument in a leadership setting means this: Was the person born that way (nature) or did they learn about leadership from someone else (nurture)? ”

    The mindset is that leadership traits are learned from others or through experience. Whether or not you accept the responsibility of being a leader is a function of your personality. The difference is subtle but important. A person’s experience allows them to understand what it takes to be a effective leader, but whether they express these leadership traits themselves is a personal choice they make.

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