How is a CEO’s personality reflected in their company’s culture?

I love this question and it’s the focus of new research into the alignment of strategy, culture and the personality of the CEO by Charles O’Reilly, Xubo Cao, and Donald Sull.

The authors “used a natural language algorithm on earnings call data to assess the personalities of 460 CEOs at more than 300 companies.” [Interesting…]

They then “analysed Glassdoor reviews to calculate the firms’ organizational cultures, including factors such as collaboration, execution, and performance.” [There’s more and more work being done like this.]

They found that:

=> “Extraverted or sociable CEOs were associated with agility, collaboration, and execution”

=> “Agreeable or trusting CEOs were associated with flexibility and internal focus”

=> “Highly conscientious or detail-oriented CEOs typically led companies whose cultures placed less value on agility, innovation, and — interestingly — execution and results.”

It’s important to think about what’s reflecting what in all of this. And culture formation is complicated. The authors are most interested in alignment I think. As they say, “There’s no ideal personality type for executives — but businesses need the right one for success… The ideal personality of a CEO will largely depend on their company.”

Here’s a link to a summary of their research:


You can find the research paper here: O’Reilly, C., Cao, X., & Sull, D. (2023). CEO Personality: The Cornerstone of Organizational Culture? Group & Organization Management, 0(0).

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