CEOs Are Open, Decisive

In assessing their management styles, the chief executives who responded to the American Banker/Heidrick & Struggles survey saw themselves in both democratic and macho terms.

They said they are participative and open, yet aggressive and decisive.

But few referred to themselves as visionary and strategic, though they saw these qualities as important to future CEOs.

Indeed, for the 67% of CEOs who were grooming successors, strategic thinking, innovation, and flexibility were high on the list of requirements.

"They are saying they realize it doesn't matter how tough or how participatory you are if you don't know what direction to go in," said Mr. Monogenis.

They may recognize an absence of this mental capability in themselves, but they understand that a successor or ideal CEO should be able to "set a straight direction so their people will know where to march."

How has this lack of vision affected banks? Nearly half agreed that many banks have faltered so far in the '90s because their leaders were inflexible or unable to anticipate the need for alternative banking services and products.

A discomfort with an unstructured environment - one that calls for leaders to be creative and innovative - was expressed by 41% who said the majority of today's CEOs do not have what it takes to lead banks in a deregulated environment.

"They complained about the feds, but loved them too because they provided guard rails on their behavior," said Mr. Monogenis. "Now the structure is lifted and CEOs are free agents.

"But what they see is not freedom but confusion, and to deal with confusion you have to have vision."

Roughly a third of the CEOs were not grooming a successor, and Mr. Monogenis cited several possible reasons:

* Nearly half of them are new to the job, being in the CEO post for two years or less.

* The crush of day-to-day duties is keeping them from being long-term thinkers.

* They are unsure of themselves and not comfortable letting a potential No. 2 in on decision-making.

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