Bernardo M. Villegas
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Attributes and Qualities of CEOs Part II

           A CEO can hardly adopt a long-term outlook unless he has certain good human qualities or virtues.  First and foremost is humility, which he needs to be able to work with and lead people in an atmosphere of trust.  Other management authors have also identified courage, fortitude, resilience and drive to overcome the difficulties that any CEO must deal with.  These two virtues, humility and courage, belong in a more general framework, a core set of virtues initially developed by the Greek philosophers and later refined by the Christian tradition.  These virtues are habits that enable a person to accomplish his or her purpose as a human being, and live a meaningful and fulfilled life.   A CEO must deploy these virtues in a special way, not only for his own personal development but also because they will make him more effective in the job and, eventually, help gain the respect of colleagues, employees and competitors.  Without these virtues, a CEO is unlikely to be able to contribute effectively to achieving or developing the firm's mission.  Without a sense of justice and fairness, or the strength of character to seek what is good and do what needs to be done, a CEO cannot possibly ensure the company's long-term survival.  This became evident in the turbulent period of the Great Recession when companies "too big to fail" actually failed miserably because of the human flaws of their CEOs. The most important reason for a CEO to cultivate these human virtues is that it is impossible for him to lead an organization if he is not able to lead by the personal example of his own virtuous life.    

          Finally, especially in the Philippine case, the CEO must assign the highest priority to people development and talent building.  He is the Chief Human Resource Manger.  A CEO must ensure that the company has not only the managers it needs today but also the necessary plans and processes for developing the next generation of managers from within as much as possible, but without excluding the possibility of hiring managers from outside.  One indicator of a company's strength as an institution is its ability to generate, attract and retain talent.  Good professionals expect appropriate financial rewards, but to varying degrees they also expect more from a company:  professional challenges, constant opportunities to learn and improve, and a working atmosphere in which they can grow and be part of an enterprise that has a sense of mission extending well beyond the job of each individual.

          What we have described above should give business companies in the Philippines and in the emerging ASEAN Economic Community a lot of food for thought about how to multiply the number of CEOs among the current functional managers in their forties or fifties.  The book of Dr. Canals was published by the Cambridge University Press (   Those interested in the Advanced Management Program for the development of CEOs in the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) may contact  For comments, my email address is