Ascension to the C-suite doesn’t automatically qualify an executive as a leader.
Typically, true leaders have 11 strengths that enable them to manage their companies for greater effectiveness and elasticity despite a fast-changing marketplace.
Having positive attributes is synonymous with having skill sets. Strong attributes are certainly helpful. But more importantly, possessing qualities or strengths connotes having values.
By having values or qualities, the CEO becomes the catalyst for organizational success.
What if a CEO doesn’t possess the needed leadership qualities?
For a quick study, a CEO can start developing leadership qualities with three strategies:
— Practicing the art of listening while keeping an open mind — to prevent jumping to conclusions in decision-making.
— Being rigorously honest in all situations.
— Developing an unassuming and approachable personality — not aloof — in all business settings.
These strategies can lead to trusting relationships simultaneously, just as CEOs hone their personal strengths and cultivate leaders around them.
Leaders know it takes a teamwork approach to achieve lofty feats in the marketplace. So a leader is someone who is respected and trusted. However, it requires a lot of footwork.
The tickets to leadership include 11 strengths:
1. Credibility. Leaders earn the trust of employees. Trustworthiness equates with integrity. Honesty in all situations — big or small — is necessary. By enhancing trust which is accomplished with communication, it’s easier to set goals and attract people who impart those goals.
2. Even-handedness. Leaders insure fair play for everyone. Even the appearance of discrimination threatens success. No CEO will succeed in leadership if discrimination is a cultural issue.
It leads to morale, image and legal issues. So it’s vital to take steps to avoid EEOC discrimination suits.
3. Selflessness. Leaders are approachable. They have an unassuming manner. They’re not narcissistic.
They walk the floor a couple of times a day to chat with employees instead of summoning them to an ostentatious office. This means employees will feel more comfortable around the boss.
The article, Why Not to Expect Miraculous Leadership from Narcissistic CEOs, explains why narcissistic executives are unsuccessful in leadership.
The red flags about CEOs with narcissistic tendencies are:
— The prominence of the CEO’s photograph in the company’s annual report
— The CEO’s prominence in the company’s press releases
— The length of the CEO’s Who’s Who entry
— The CEO’s use of first person singular pronouns in interviews
— The CEO’s cash compensation divided by that of the second-highest paid executive in the firm
— The CEO’s non-cash compensation divided by that of the second-highest paid executive in the firm.
4. Listening habits. Cognizant they might miss important information, leaders listen. Employees are flattered when the big boss listens. CEOs can actually power their brand with employee empowerment.
Leaders engage all stakeholders. They open meetings by actively listening before voicing their opinions. They ask non-leading questions and wait to get answers. They know how to hold productive meetings to improve performance.
Leaders know they can express interest in others’ opinions and convey understanding without having to agree with them. And if they listen 80 to 90 percent discussions, they’ll be better able to sell their ideas.
5. Open-mindedness. Leaders know how to profit from their human capital. By keeping an open mind, leaders learn both the good and bad.
Furthermore, there’s a correlation among excellent sales, happy customers, and high employee morale. Proverbially speaking, employees are where the tire meets the road.
Another benefit from being open-minded is that employees feel motivated to offer profitable ideas. Such knowledge is a powerful weapon for high performance in a competitive marketplace.
Being open-minded also positions a leader to be prepared for change. Why? They’re astute enough to focus on continuous improvement. This means they’ll be alert to make changes.
6. Sensitivity. Leaders are sensitive to people and situations that arise. They intuitively know they can’t motivate or persuade their employees and other stakeholders, if they aren’t aware of what’s going on with people.
The most impressive people are considerate, polite, and discreet — careful how they respond to people and situations.
7. Seize opportunities. Leaders know how and when to take the initiative. Being alert to opportunities is also aided if the CEO is surrounded by other leaders.
However, a large number of business intelligence (BI) users admit they don’t effectively use it to identify and create opportunities for sustainable growth, according to a study.
Leaders use best practices to capitalize on BI.
8. Judgment. Leaders use data in problem-solving, strategizing and objectivity in using judgment. They hire people with good judgment.
When it comes to fads, they’re discerning — they use good judgment before deciding to jump on the fad bandwagon.
To beef up poor earnings or to grow the company for egotistical reasons, some CEOs decide to acquire other businesses. Leaders resist the urge to merge with another company until they’ve done their due diligence. For instance, they know the lessons from a study of failed mergers of Canadian businesses.
Only 20 percent of Canadian mergers and acquisitions succeed, according that survey of finance executives. The study confirmed that mergers only succeed if companies strategically plan to minimize risks in their cultures and workforces.
9. Decision-making. Leaders have the competence to make timely and sound decisions. It’s possible after sufficient thought and consideration followed by deliberation, and then more reflection and obtaining the right advice.
Because CEOs don’t make all decisions, what’s needed is a strong bench of professionals — who mutually support each other.
A salient characteristic of leadership is strategic thinking. What does this mean? It means seeing the big picture — taking a long-term approach in anticipating and solving problems with strategic planning skills.
10. Sense of urgency. Leaders set the right pace and tone. By acting with initiative with timeliness, a company enjoys a competitive edge.
For example, leaders instill a sense of innovation and urgency — from developing products quickly — to supplying customers efficiently.
A side benefit is retention of valued employees. It’s gratifying for employees to work for a leading company.
11. Motivating others. Leaders are competent in motivating others with the art of persuasion and in whom employees become confident. Leaders don’t rely solely on compensation to motivate employees to greater heights.
They do it by creating a leading company, providing meaningful work, producing stellar goods and services and giving recognition.
From the Coach’s Corner, more content on leadership:
5 Reasons Why Managers Are Promoted to Leadership Positions — In selecting candidates for leadership, the risks can be great for both the company and managers in lost time, effort, and money. So when deciding which of their corporate managers should be promoted into a leadership positions, companies naturally don’t want any surprises.
18 Leadership Strategies to Earn Employee Respect — Eighteen strategies to profit from good labor relations, and to leverage the perspective of employees – your company’s human capital.
10 Realities if You Want to Succeed as a Leader — So, your hard work has finally paid off. Your employer is rewarding you. After paying your dues and earning your stripes, you’ve reached a leadership position. But new problems now confront you. While you’re honored to be given the position, you’re learning about your challenges.
“Not the cry, but the flight of a wild duck, leads the flock to fly and follow.”