How most CEOs really operate

Well dressed businessman claiming to be the boss

Well dressed businessman claiming to be the boss

Donald Trump? Get real. While, statistically speaking, your boss, too, likely is a white male, that’s where the comparison to a globe-trotting self-absorbed, ultra-rich CEO likely ends. Your guy probably prefers business casual clothing over an Italian suit and rather than lingering over a wine-centric lunch with famous politicos, he’s more likely absently nibbling on a brown-bag lunch at his desk or grabbing a fast-food option. Furthermore, according to December 2014 findings of the CEO Survey conducted by CareerBuilder, 10 percent of CEOs usually skip lunch altogether.

The C-Suite study, commissioned by CareerBuilder and conducted by Harris Poll, surveyed more than 500 CEOs, CFOs, COOs and Senior VPs to delve into their personal and professional preferences and behaviors. Far from the profile of a fat cat boss that most of us carry in our heads of corporate leadership, the survey revealed a profile of an average Joe or Joan with a propensity to work as hard as they play.

Changing times

While black remains the top clothing color choice, followed by (yawn) navy blue and grey, more than half of those surveyed (57 percent) favored business casual clothing. You might find it more surprising that nearly as many executives regularly wore jeans or shorts to work (18 percent) as the number who felt a business suit was still the most appropriate upper-management office attire (20 percent).

Also reflecting changing cultural mores, 18 percent of the recipients own environmentally-friendly vehicles, 9 percent rely on public transportation (bus or train) to get to work, four percent drive hybrids, and four percent walk to work. One percent ride bikes while the majority continue to drive their mid-sized sedan or SUV to work.

Martini lunches, too, may well be yesterday’s left-overs. Today, more than 62 percent of executives abstain from drinking any alcoholic beverage at company functions. Of the 38 percent who might have a drink while “on the clock”, most limit it to beer or wine (26 percent) rather than a more potent mixed drink. Favorite non-alcoholic drinks, in order of preference, are soda, water and coffee.

In a different survey, also conducted by CareerBuilder in 2014, it was revealed that many executives now use social media in new ways. One in four employers (24 percent) have caught an employee lying about being sick by checking social media. Of those, 22 percent fired the employee. Fifty-four percent were more forgiving, only reprimanding the employee for the lie.

Work-life balance

Perhaps the most insightful finding in the December survey is that execs don’t spend most of their time on a golf course or, conversely, sitting at their desk long after everyone else leaves. Fifty-eight percent said they work 40 to 49 hours a week, and in fact, most executives (67 percent) work less than 50 hours per week – which fares a little better in terms of work/life balance than mid-managers can claim.

Likewise, 82 percent of the executives who were polled enjoy at least a weekly physical workout, with 39 percent managing a workout four or more days a week.

If the CEO profile sounds more like you and me than Donald Trump, it’s because most CEOs are just that – regular people who like to read surveys, too, and who worry about your opinion of them as much as you worry about their opinion of you. And that’s good to know.

About Jody Glynn Patrick

Jody is President of Glynn Patrick & Associates, which provides management consulting, executive coaching and strategic planning services. She is Publisher Emeritus of In Business magazine, which she published for 17 years. Selected as the “U.S. Business Journalist of the Year” in 2007 in Washington, DC, by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Jody has been a business reporter, editor, radio talk show host , and has won other state and national journalism awards. At the same time, she has helped corporate clients grow their businesses -- the basis for her practical coaching advice here. She also was the 2005 Athena Award recipient for her leadership role in mentoring other professional women. Jody will be talking with you weekly on TDS’ blog to share her insights and tips from the C-Suite perspective. Follow on G+.

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One Response to How most CEOs really operate

  1. A. Shaw April 16, 2015 at 9:47 am #

    The CEOs of S&P 500 Index company made, on average, 354 times the average wages of rank-and-file U.S. workers in 2012. I would not go so far as to say they are just like non-CEOs.

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