Over the years I have been fortunate to provide advisory, consulting and coaching support to a number of great leaders. Stated another way, I have been lucky and selective about accepting projects with leaders who sincerely want to get something done while declining projects for leaders who are not ready, willing and/or able to make a difference.
Today, I read a blog post by Josh Linkner in Fast Company where he reflects on “Life Lessons Learned from Steve Jobs”. While Steve continues to be a monumental force in driving innovation that changes people’s lives, there are additional attributes of leadership that I have experienced in most of my truly great clients.
1.Most important, great leaders are self aware. They know who they are as are comfortable in their own skin. As a result they are humble, vulnerable, and sincere in their appreciation for the gifts of others.
2.Great leaders are great at hiring. As good as their gut might be, they do not rely solely on it to make hiring decisions. They use external assessments and processes that create an accurate profile of candidate’s potential for success, as well as a map to accelerate their integration into the organization that is owned by the new executive and supported in a transparent manner by their colleagues.
3.They are passionate about leaving their companies (and the world) better than they found them. Success is not about their own success, but rather that of others. A good day is when they help someone discover something that makes a different in the company; an even better day is when they experience that person “paying forward” this gift. A fantastic day is when they thank the leader.
4.These leaders manage themselves to avoid premature decisions. As the boss, people look to you to decide. The best leaders ensure extremes in possibilities and opinions are explored before moving to detailed options analyses and decision. They encourage appropriate disagreement and debate.
5.They are positive in their thinking and words. Naysayers are not allowed, nor are those who dream without grounding in reality. They demand discussions that focus on what would it take, vs. what could go wrong if we do this. Having said this, there is always a focus on risk analysis as decisions come to closure.
6.These gifted leaders see people for who they are and what they bring to the party, not solely for the expected technical/functional knowledge that is inherent in their role and job title. For example, they expect all on the team to contribute as leaders of the organization first and leaders of their business units or functions second. In other words, there is one “A” team.
7.They model work life balance hold members of their team to a similar high standard knowing that in order for individuals and teams to perform at the highest level that renewal is critical.
8.When they move on, succession occurs without much of a blip. The stock price does not drop, the board is totally supportive of the new leader and the organization celebrates the contributions of the departing leader and the potential for her/his successor.
So, take a look in the mirror. On a scale of 1 (low) and 5 (high) and rate yourself in each of these dimensions and set a plan to improve your professional and personal effectiveness. You really have everything to gain!