The Robbie Report: Building a Better CEO

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As seen in the Wall Street Journal:

Someone asked me recently what I thought it took to be a good chief executive officer. It’s a thought-provoking question, because there are generally a variety of skills required for the job.

What do most CEOs study in school? You might find it interesting to note that according to a 2011 survey of S&P 500 CEOs, 33 percent of those polled had undergraduate degrees in engineering, while only 11 percent held degrees in business administration. Other surveys suggest Americans believe people from operations finance, marketing and sales make better CEOs, failing to make the connection between engineers and boardrooms. I think it makes good sense: engineers are disciplined, analytical builders.

In my case, I earned a master’s degree in architecture from Tulane University. Now, you might ask, “What could architecture possibly have to do with running a real estate company?” Let me tell you, a lot. For one thing, my studies helped me understand problem-solving techniques. They also taught me the importance of building; whether it’s a physical structure or a team, the ability to shape and develop are key characteristics for a successful CEO to possess.

I would add that leadership is probably the most important trait for CEOs. When someone says, “I’d follow him or her into traffic,” based on Dallas traffic alone, that’s leadership! The presentation of a shared vision that is creative, reasonable and actionable is also critical to the success of an organization, as is the ability to make tough decisions and communicate them.

Finally, businesses don’t run without copious attention to the bottom line, thus a strong financial acumen can’t be overstated when discussing the most important qualities of a CEO. I’m not suggesting that only engineers should be CEOs. However, isn’t it interesting to apply the principles of building to business?

robbie briggs photo

Robbie Briggs 

President and CEO

Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty


Click here to see the latest in real estate news. CEO Robbie Briggs independently owns and operates Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty with six offices in Dallas, Uptown, Lakewood, Ranch and Land, The Ballpark and Southlake.

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