Identifying Trait No. 6: EMPATHETIC. "Live the Golden Rule," says Jim Goodnight, CEO of SAS, a software developer that perennially places high in lists of the best places to work. Chief executive since the privately held company incorporated in 1976, Goodnight has emerged as a poster boy for a different kind of leadership that suddenly is coming into vogue because it gets results. "We worry about our people and our customers, not our stock price," he says. Even in the worst days of the tech downturn, "We had no layoffs," Goodnight says. "I do not lay people off." Most impressively, in 2003 the company's revenues actually increased by 13.5 percent. SAS's secret sauce: "What we do is common sense. We treat people as we ourselves want to be treated."

Identifying Trait No. 7: ABSOLUTELY HONEST. Bogus degrees, trumped-up sales figures, even criminal convictions have undermined many dozens of CEOs in recent years. Today there can't even be a whiff of problems with a CEO candidate, because boards, employees, government agencies, and Wall Street are united in saying top executives must be blemish-free.

Nobody says dishonesty won't surface again. But recruiters like Nosal are doing compulsively thorough background checks. "We are going way beyond the normal references. We do criminal and credit checks. We are looking to really get to know these CEO candidates because 21st-century CEOs will be squeaky clean - that's one ingredient everybody agrees on."

the revolution starts here
patrick byrne is no dedicated follower of fashion; he pursues his own course. one proof is that he produced that rare bird, a successful dot-com. his salt lake city-based was founded in 1999.