• executives;
  • leadership;
  • personality;
  • motives;
  • power;
  • achievement

Research on the leadership of executives in the United States typically follows one of two traditions, emphasizing either characteristics of the incumbent or features of the office. This article brings together these traditions. It draws upon the work of Winter to develop measures of three aspects of personality—the power, achievement, and affiliation drives—and hypothesizes that the power and achievement motives are exhibited in conjunction by successful chief executives. It then tests this hypothesis within the contexts of the American states, thus accounting for both the leaders as individuals and the features of the political and economic environments in which they lead. The primary hypothesis is affirmed. Governors who exhibit high levels of the power and achievement motives in tandem are substantially more likely to achieve their policy goals. In addition, governors who emphasize affiliation are less successful.