April 23, 2018

Traits to be a world-class leader

"The CEO Next Door: The 4 Behaviors that Transform Ordinary People into World-Class Leaders" by Elena Bothelo and Kim R. Powell with Tahl Raz (Currency, $28).

No matter what rung of the organizational ladder you're a CEO. Of what? "Me Inc." How you do your job determines the success of Me Inc. The authors' study of the leadership traits of over 2,600 CEOs shows that leaders are go-to people, not me-too people. Their research identified four go-to behaviors:

1. "Decide: Speed Over Precision" — Effective CEOs don't suffer from analysis paralysis. They know when they have enough information to make a decision. How? They "make the complex simple" by paying close attention to what drives value to the organization. By identifying and prioritizing "things that always matter," employees at all levels can "check the boxes" quickly, too.

2. "Engage for Impact: Orchestrate Stakeholders to Drive Results" deals with the ability to build relationships. Think about the people you work with inside and outside the firm. Their range of interests, needs, wants, motivation, etc., shift over time. Leaders must be able to identify and address those shifts to influence (two-way) value-oriented action on an ongoing basis. To identify and address they don't assume they know; they seek information by asking questions and listening.

3. "Relentless Reliability: Deliver Consistently" — It's all about getting things done. It's about following through on commitments. When employees know what to expect from a leader, they expect the same things of themselves.

The major thing employees expect: realistic expectations. S-T-R-E-T-C-H works to challenge people — but the expected outcome can't be "pie in the sky." Employees should come away confidently saying, "Consider it done."

4. "Adapt Boldly: Ride the Discomfort of the Unknown" speaks to understanding that the future won't be a repeat of the past. Leaders understand that comfort zone and danger zone are kindred spirits. They take the attitude, "If I am not uncomfortable, then I am probably not learning and changing fast enough."

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