As ceo compensation at the country’s top firms has surged—up nearly 1,000 percent in the past 35 years, blowing past economic growth—so too has a line of research dedicated to the rites and customs of the average corner-office occupant.
He—and it is almost always a he; the S&P 1500 includes fewer companies led by women than by men named John—looks unusually competent, even if he isn’t . The odds that he holds an M.B.A. are about 50 percent, up from 10 percent in the mid-20th century (when CEOs were more likely to have a graduate degree in fields like law and engineering) . He stands to earn more if he has a deep voice , impressive contacts , a large signature , or a superior golf game .
Speaking of golf: Though spending time on the green may be good for a CEO’s paycheck, some studies warn that it may not be so good for his company. Golf skills have been negatively associated with stock returns, as has personal use of a corporate jet (which correlates with membership in faraway golf clubs) . Then again, even professional achievement can backfire on shareholders: Stock prices also tend to drop after a CEO wins a prestigious award—perhaps because such awards often bring with them distractions like book contracts and seats on outside boards .