Jun 24 2010
After asking many executives what characteristics made a successful leader, I created a list of the 20 top answers. Are you following all 20? And with the right experiences can all executives learn to be leaders?
1. Ethical and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): Leadership sets the standards and culture for ethical behavior.
2. A Leader is there to serve: A truly successful leader understands that you are there to serve your team, not to be served.
3. A vision of commitment to the organization: Leadership is about creating a vision that inspires those who work for and around you to participate actively in key goals, objectives and the overall mission.
4. From the top to the bottom: Leaders must be able to quickly assess the gap between top management and the working group, and think of innovations of how to encourage the team to act and feel satisfied as winners or contributors to the success of the company.
5. Excellent communication: Leaders must have an astute clarity of expression, communicating thoughts entirely synchronized with the messages delivered AND received. A leader must have the ability to communicate effectively at every level in your organization.
6. Ability to listen and debate: Rather than simply ‘delivering’ ideas, prepare to engage in debate around ideas and really listen to every suggestion.
7. Teamwork: Absolutely essential is the ability to create and maintain trust and respect between team members quickly and effectively. A leader should be able to spot key problems and empower management to iron out any issues.
8. Delegation: A senior executive leader must have confidence to delegate work to his or her team and step back - leaders are there to empower others to become leaders and managers themselves.
9. Management is not the same as leadership: As your leadership grows your necessity for managing greatly decreases as people become self driven towards the vision. Leadership itself is NOT about operational procedures, metrics, or work styles it's about "vision" and "empowerment."
10. However, many leadership positions often require management skills: Many executives must learn to perform as both leaders (visionary) and managers (ability to define strategy and drive execution). This requires a great versatility that allows the executive to set clear goals, objectives and targets, and communicate these in an effective way.
11. Be a Leader not a micro-manager: Give employees room to breathe while monitoring their performance from behind the scenes. Encourage managers and employees to hold one another accountable against their plans and focus on achieving collective results.
12. Talent Management: Ability to inspire teams and to bring the best out in people. Recognize where further training and education can be used to develop skills of team members. It is about providing the empowerment necessary to guarantee people can succeed.
13. Change Management: Adapt quickly to changes in the marketplace and communicate these to all members of the organization. Get the entire company behind changes necessary through visionary leadership.
14. Forward thinking: Beyond adapting to external changes, a leader must enact their own – an executive leader should be able to see current and future trends, apply them to his or her organization and stay ahead of the competition.
15. Resilience, perseverance and motivation management: Particularly in today’s climate, leaders have to be able to withstand lows and still motivate their teams. This requires a commitment to positivity even in times of extreme hardship; leaders must encourage teams to think and act positively, and instill passion in their work.
16. Honesty and integrity: Although leaders must be positive, when things are not going well, the truth must be communicated. Subsequently, leaders must provide the vision and encouragement to bring the organization forward.
17. A Problem Solver: Leaders must always find solutions or (at least) suggest alternatives to every problem.
18. Focused: Keep the team on the right track on goals and strategies – ask for reminders of projects / goals and maintain focus on critical objectives despite endless obstacles.
19. Confidence Without Arrogance: Senior executives must lead by example, not just by words.
20. Learn and Evolve: Leadership positions require a constant learning process to adapt to the latest developments. Programs of executive education and further training should be continually completed.
The Ultimate Executive Career Guide: Connecting with Executive Search
As a senior-level executive, you can use this guide to:
- Learn about executive search and how it differs from other forms of recruiting
- Discover the best ways to connect with executive search professionals
- Understand how the search process works
- Implement strategies that will help you become visible to the search community
- And more!