Redefining the Modern CEO

COVID- A new definition of leadership in the twenty-first century is necessary in light of the global crises of 19 and others. In this edition of the McKinsey Future of Asia Podcast, we discuss what it takes to be a successful CEO in the complex and dynamic global context of today.

We will examine the shifts in the operating procedures of contemporary CEOs and their leadership toolkits with our guests. With special guests Carolyn Dewar, senior partner in the San Francisco office, and Vik Malhotra, senior partner in the New York office and Chairman of the Americas, this discussion was moderated by Gautam Kumra, Chairman of McKinsey Asia. In the top-selling book CEO Excellence: The six mindsets that set the best apart from the rest, Carolyn and Vik were among the co-authors. Join our podcast to hear more discussions about the future of Asia.

Redefining the Modern CEO: What does it take to succeed, and better yet, excel as a CEO in today’s world?

The Asian century has begun. The region is now the world’s largest economy. As Asia’s economies evolve further, the region has the potential to fuel and shape the next normal. In each episode, we are going to feature conversations with leaders from across the region to discuss what Asia’s rise means for businesses across the globe. 


The pandemic, among other changes to the modus operandi of CEOs in the 21st century, has necessitated a redefinition of the role of the modern CEO. Today, we look at how the role has changed and what it takes to be an excellent CEO in today’s environment. Carolyn Dewar, a senior partner in the San Francisco office, and Vik Malhotra, a senior partner in the New York office and Chairman of the Americas, will also be participating in the podcast. The book CEO Excellence: The Six Mindsets that Set the Best Apart is co-authored by them. Additionally, they have a combined 50 years of expertise changing company strategy and fostering leadership transformation.


This book is the result of our desire to understand what makes exceptional CEOs. Are there any distinguishing characteristics? How can prospective CEO candidates and other international leaders learn from distinguishing qualities that truly stand out? As a result of studying thousands of CEOs throughout time, we had a body of research.


We already had a corpus of evidence from studying hundreds of CEOs over time to substantiate this, but we also wanted to add some compelling interviews. We set out to speak with a number of CEOs who could provide us with more information, other viewpoints, and—most importantly—stories about actions they had taken that had brought some of their best qualities as CEOs to life. Therefore, we examined 4,500 CEOs who had been engaged globally in the previous 20 to 25 years or so.