Believe it or not, one thing that predicts how well a CEO’s company performs is – the width of his face! CEOs with wider faces, like Herb Kelleher, the former CEO of Southwest Airlines, have better-performing companies than CEOs like Dick Fuld, the long-faced final CEO of Lehman Brothers. That’s the conclusion of a new study. Several studies have shown that the ratio of face width to face height is correlated with aggression. Hockey players with wider faces spend more time in the penalty box for fighting. Men with higher facial width are seen as less trustworthy and they feel more powerful. People who feel powerful tend to look at the big picture rather than focusing on small details and are also better at staying on task. The researchers based their analyses on photos of 55 male CEOs of publicly-traded Fortune 500 organizations. They only used men because this relationship between face shape and behavior has only been found to apply to men; it’s thought to have something to do with testosterone levels. They also gathered information on the companies’ financial performance and analyzed shareholder letters to get a sense of the kind of thinking that goes on at those companies. CEOs with a wider face, relative to the face’s height, had much better firm financial performance than CEOs who had narrower faces. The researchers also found that the way the top management team thinks, as reflected in their writings, can get in the way of this effect. Teams that take a simplistic view of the world, in which everything is black and white, are thought to be more deferential to authority; in these companies, the CEO’s face shape is more important. It’s less important in companies where the top managers see the world more in shades of gray.
Hat tip, hbd* chick!