David Aaker, a renowned management guru recently came up with an analysis which I though is quite befitting to the subject:
He said a gifted CEO needs two qualities, and he thinks that these come with birth, and not training. They are executive talent and strategic judgment.
Executive talent. Executives need a broad range of talent; excelling on a few dimensions is rarely enough. A truly gifted CEO should have a good feel for selecting, motivating, and evaluating people; developing and selling a strategy; creating an inspiring culture; developing an organizational structure and management process that work for the strategy; fostering cooperation across silos; understanding and using financial measures; and an understanding of how marketing, branding, finance, production, distribution contribute to strategy. With the right talent and DNA, a CEO who is missing background in some of these areas will quickly pick it up.
Strategic judgment. Some people just have a flair for good judgment — whether it is an ability to identify issues, distill facts, or develop instincts to make sound strategic decisions — and others simply do not. This too, in my opinion, is something you are born with. In my field, I see many who have deep experience in branding but relatively few that have a strategic flair. It can be improved but it cannot be created.
There are many with the talent and judgment to be successful CEOs that never get the opportunity to learn, to have the right experience, or to prove themselves. But, in my view, those that lack those qualities will not be successful no matter what background, training, experience, or mentoring they might have.