Educating the next generation of leaders

CEO Excellence: The Six Mindsets That Distinguish the Best Leaders from the Rest by McKinsey partners Carolyn Dewar, Vik Malhotra, and Scott Keller launched in March 2022. As you might imagine, it took a village of McKinsey colleagues at various levels and in a variety of roles to bring this book to life. In this article, we’ll meet Anand and Lindsey, engagement managers who played distinct parts in sharing these ground-breaking research and insights with the world.

About the book

Anand: Think of it as a handbook for the next generation of CEOs. It’s full of inspirational knowledge that guides leaders along their journey. To date, we haven’t seen a book that synthesizes what makes CEOs successful. This piece provides you with real insights from the best CEOs in the world. It offers readers an up-close-and-personal look at the skills and practices it takes to excel in the role of CEO.

The research journey


Anand: The idea for writing the book was born in 2020. Carolyn and Scott had published an article called The Mindsets and Practices of Excellent CEOs, and it was one of the top downloaded articles on There clearly was an appetite for the information, so that gave us the confidence to move forward with the book.

We wanted to ensure we were setting a bar for excellence, so it was a rigorous process to analyze and identify who we should interview. We started with CEOs who had high shareholder performance. We also looked at tenure—six years was the cutoff—because we wanted people who had some longevity in the role. We assessed reputation, and even looked at how the company performed after the CEOs’ departure to ensure they hadn’t made decisions that hurt the organization in the long run. It was a tremendous amount of data analysis. Ultimately, we narrowed the list to about 200 diverse CEOs, 67 of whom we interviewed.

My role in the project

Anand: I did some of that data analysis and reached out to CEOs to invite them to be interviewed for the research. Once a CEO agreed to interview, I would conduct research to understand the CEOs story and prep an interview guide, so the authors had some context going into the interview. I feel extremely lucky to have been present in every interview. It was a master class in leadership, and I am so grateful to have been able to hear all the candid and reflective insight.


Lindsey: Anand, the authors, and the whole team put so much thought and care into the book. My role has been to figure out how to make this wonderful content as accessible to a broad audience as quickly and as easily as possible. I am helping to coordinate the internal and external launch and communications surrounding publication.

Our goal is to reach people who are interested in learning what it takes to be an exceptional leader. I am also focused on getting the content in front of leaders within McKinsey, such as partners and associate partners, to help them become even better leadership counselors for our clients. Ultimately, all this research will enable McKinsey to help clients become stronger leaders and position their companies to be more successful.

Surprises along the way


Anand: When we talk about successful leaders, we often talk about traits, but the CEOs we interviewed were so different from each other. We spoke with introverts and extroverts, CEOs who were super-assertive and CEOs who were introspective, leaders who knew all along they’d eventually become a CEO and others who stumbled into the role and ended up being successful. It was eye-opening. People don’t always realize that, regardless of your personality or background, you can become the successful leader of an organization.

Lindsey: What struck me was how much the CEOs enjoy their role and how passionate they are about their work. Many spoke about how much fun they have. It goes to show that even when you are one of the most powerful business leaders in the world and in a high-stress job, you can still enjoy what you do.

My hope for the book


Lindsey: The job of CEO is challenging and it’s becoming ever more challenging; the same can be said for leaders and even employees at all organizational levels. There are so many more demands on all of us.

This book enables people at all levels to learn how to be successful and bring their best selves to work. My hope is that this book will help build a generation of stronger leaders, who will have a positive ripple effect in organizations, big and small, across the globe.

Anand: This anecdote best sums it up for me. I was at my father-in-law’s for dinner, and one of his coworkers joined us. When he found out I worked at McKinsey, he said he was looking forward to the book. He had learned about it because we interviewed the CEO of his alma mater.

He went on to tell me how he appreciated the videos and lessons McKinsey shares. He was looking forward to the book because he had ambitions to become a leader in his organization, and he believed the content would help him grow his confidence.

For about 18 months now, we have put our effort into this project, and we believe in the book. Still, to hear someone outside the firm talk about looking forward to it in this way made it real for me. This book is going to help the next generation of leaders.

Learn more about CEO Excellence

More about Anand and Lindsey

Anand earned a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art and an MBA from INSEAD. He joined McKinsey in 2016 as an associate and has since moved into the engagement manager role. He focuses largely on driving growth transformation for telecom, media and technology clients.

Lindsey earned a BA and a BS from the University of Oregon and an MBA at Dartmouth. She joined McKinsey as an associate in 2019. She now focuses on helping clients with organizational health and performance and change management.

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