Nasdaq CEO Bob Greifeld explains the strategy he uses to find the company's next leaders

NASDAQ Bob Greifeld 1Hollis JohnsonNasdaq, Inc. CEO Bob Greifeld speaks with Business Insider in the company’s Manhattan headquarters.

Nasdaq, Inc. CEO Bob Greifeld regularly has group lunches with non-executive employees to remain visible and available to those outside of his inner circle.

But through these lunches, Greifeld is able to get an idea of who will be rising up the ranks to a leadership position.

“It’s always interesting to me to see the range of engagement of people,” he told Business Insider in a recent interview held in Nasdaq’s New York headquarters.

He’ll find some employees who are “intellectually curious” and know what is happening within Nasdaq and the industry, and other employees who may be talented and capable but only know what’s happening within their own job.

“If you don’t have that intellectual curiosity, magnified by passion, then it’s hard to advance, and, certainly at the executive level, hard to thrive,” Greifeld said.

To help monitor the growth of natural leaders possessing this trait, Nasdaq ties 10% of its employees’ compensation to an engagement score.

“Intellectual curiosity” is also the primary attribute Greifeld looks for when interviewing candidates for a role that reports directly to him.

“I think water seeks its level over time,” he said. “As managers you might think you have the ability to change employees, but I say you have the ability to improve them but not to change them, because they will always go back to their own level.” Therefore, he wants to find candidates whose innate curiosity and passion will drive them, without his intervention.

“You’ve got to assess who this person is, what their motivations are, at what rate do they want to work, and how do they want to advance,” Greifeld said.

“We want to see people who want to be passionate, want to be engaged, want to be part of the industry, and are not just coming here to work to make what is a good paycheck.”

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