The CEO Test: Master the Challenges That Make or Break All Leaders

The CEO Test: Master the Challenges That Make or Break All Leaders

The CEO Test: Master the Challenges That Make or Break All Leaders

The CEO Test: Master the Challenges That Make or Break All Leaders


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Named to the longlist for the 2021 Outstanding Works of Literature (OWL) Award in the Leadership category

Are you ready to lead? Will you pass the test?

Despite all the effort through the years to understand what it takes to be an effective leader, the challenges of leadership remain enormously difficult and elusive; even today, most CEOs don't last five years in the job. The demands to deliver at a consistently high level can be unforgiving.

The loneliness. The weight of responsibility. The relentless second-guessing and criticism. The pressure to build all-star teams. The 24/7 schedule that requires superhuman stamina. The tough decisions that often leave no one happy. The expectation to always have the right answer when it can be hard just to know the right question.

These challenges are brought into their highest and sharpest relief in the corner office, but they are hardly unique to chief executives. All leaders face their own version of these tests, and the authors draw on the distilled wisdom, stories, and lessons from hundreds of chief executives to show how every aspiring leader can master these challenges and lead like a CEO. These foundational leadership skills will make all aspiring executives more effective in their roles today and lift the trajectory of their careers.

The CEO Test is the authoritative, no-nonsense insider's guide to navigating leadership's toughest challenges, brought to you by authors uniquely qualified to tell the stories. Adam Bryant has conducted in-depth interviews with more than 600 CEOs. Kevin Sharer spent more than two decades as president and then CEO of Amgen, where he led its expansion from $1 billion in annual revenues to nearly $16 billion. He has served on many boards and is a sought-after mentor for CEOs of global companies.

Leadership is getting harder as the speed of disruption across all industries accelerates. The CEO Test will better prepare you to succeed, whether you're a CEO or just setting out to become one.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781633699519
Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press
Publication date: 03/02/2021
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 1,115,040
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Adam Bryant is managing director of The ExCo Group, a leadership development and mentoring firm, where he's worked with hundreds of CEOs. Prior to this he was a journalist for 30 years, including at the New York Times where he created and authored the massively successful "Corner Office" column in which he interviewed CEOs about their key leadership lessons. He's the author of Quick and Nimble and The Corner Office, a bestseller. He is also the Senior Advisor to the Reuben Mark Initiative for Organizational Character and Leadership at Columbia University.

Kevin Sharer is the former CEO of Amgen, the largest biotech company in the world. He spent 20 years in the role, growing the company from $1 billion to nearly $16 billion. He is a former chief engineering officer in the Navy and Lieutenant Commander on fast-attack submarines. He has helped with more than 20 major CEO transitions for various companies. He teaches at Harvard Business School, where he is the cocreator of a successful course on the life and role of the CEO.

You can find Adam Bryant at, @adambryant, and Linkedin: AdamBryantLeadership.
You can find Kevin Sharer at

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Test #1 Can You Develop a Simple Plan for Your Strategy? 1

Simplifying complexity is a leader's superpower.

Test #2 Can You Make the Culture Real- and Matter? 37

It's about walking the talk.

Test #3 Can You Build Teams That Are True Teams? 63

They are the key to driving the strategy.

Test #4 Can You Lead Transformation? 91

The status quo is enormously powerful, and it is the enemy of change.

Test #5 Can You Really Listen? 119

Danger signals can be faint, and bad news travels slowly.

Test #6 Can You Handle a Crisis? 141

Avoid the predictable mistakes that trip up so many leaders.

Test #7 Can You Master the Inner Game of Leadership? 167

The conflicting demands and challenges must be managed.

Notes 191

Acknowledgments 193

About the Authors 197

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