Today’s guest post comes from my man @MikeMyatt, who in my opinion is one of the top if not the top Leadership Experts in the world. He is straight up brilliant and has been a great mentor to me personally. This week, Mike just released his brand new leadership gem “Hacking Leadership: The 11 Gaps Every Business Needs to Close and the Secrets to Closing Them Quickly.” It’s awesome, go grab a copy now.
15 Traits Of Great Leadership
Today’s post will make the case for leadership development. While much has been written about the traits and characteristics that form great leaders, the truth is that leaders come in many different varieties…there is no one-size-fits-all formula for leadership. That said, all good leaders possess certain core qualities, and great leaders simply develop said core qualities to a higher level than their peers. Put simply, a leader’s shelf life will be equal to their ability to leverage their leadership traits through solid execution, and influencing their constituencies in alignment with the corporate vision with values. If you want to insure longevity and success as a leader, focus on developing your leadership acumen by prioritizing your efforts on the following list of 15 leadership traits:
- 1. Integrity: Always do the right thing regardless of sentiment, and never compromise your core values. If you cannot build trust and engender confidence with your stakeholders you cannot succeed. No amount of talent can overcome illicit, immoral or otherwise ill-advised actions. A leader void of integrity will not survive over the long-haul.
- 2. Excellent Decision Making Skills: As a leader you will live or die by the quality of the decisions you make. The practical reality of leadership is that you are often only as good as your last decision. When you’re the leader good decisioning is expected, poor decisioning won’t be tolerated, and great decisioning will set you apart from the masses.
- 3. Ability to Focus: If you cannot focus, you cannot perform at the level necessary to remain in leadership for very long. The ability to do nothing more than understand and lock-on to priorities will place you in the top 10% of all leaders.
- 4. Leveraging Experience: Inexperience, a lack of maturity, needing to be the center of attention, not recognizing limitations, a lack of judgment, an inferior knowledge base, or any number of other common mistakes made by rookie leaders can cause your house of cards to fall. If you don’t have the experience personally, hire it, contract it, but by all means acquire it. Great leaders surround themselves with tier-one talent, and the best advisors money can buy. They don’t make uniformed or ill-advised decisions in a vacuum.
- 5. Command Presence: Great leaders possess a strong presence and bearing. They are unflappable individuals that never let you see them sweat (unless of course it serves a purpose). Everything about how they carry themselves messages that they have a clear vision and are capable of leading in accordance with said vision.
- 6. Embracing Change: Great leaders have a strong bias to action. They don’t rest upon past accomplishments, and are always seeking to improve through change and innovation. In today’s fast paced and competitive environment, those leaders who don’t openly embrace change will often be shown the door prior to the expiration of their initial employment contract.
- 7. Brand Champions: Great leaders understand branding at every level. They seek to build not only a dominant corporate brand, but also to leverage a strong personal brand. Leaders that are not well branded on a personal basis, or who let their corporate brand fall into decline will not survive.
- 8. Boundless Energy: Great leaders have a boundless amount of energy. They are positive in their outlook, and their attitude is contagious. A low energy leader is not motivating, convincing, or credible.
- 9. Subject Matter Expertise: Great leaders have a deep understanding of their subject matter, and a strong orientation toward achievement. Great leaders possess what often appears to be a sixth sense, or an almost instinctive feel for what needs to occur in order to leverage their knowledge into a competitive advantage.
- 10. Talent: Great leaders have a nose for talent…They understand how to recruit, develop and deploy talent focusing on applying the best talent to the best opportunities. They also know when it’s time to make changes, and to cut losses as needed.
- 11. Organizational Acumen: Great leaders know how to engender trust, when and how to share information, and are expert listeners. They develop strong teams an healthy organizational cultures driven to performance by aligned motivations. They understand the power of well thought out, consistent, and clearly articulated vision. They can quickly diagnose whether the team/organization is performing at full potential, delivering on commitments, and whether the team is changing and growing versus just operating.
- 12. Curiosity: Great leaders possess a powerful motivation to increase their knowledge base and to convert their learning into actionable initiatives. They question, challenge, confront and are never accepting of the status quo. They listen well and are exceptionally intuitive and observant.
- 13. Intellectual Capacity: Great leaders are also great thinkers…both at the strategic and tactical levels. They are quick on their feet, and know how to get to the root of an issue faster than anyone else. I’ve never met a great leader who wasn’t extremely discerning.
- 14. Big Thinkers: Regardless of the physical or geographical boundaries of their current role, great CEOs think big and add a zero. Limited thinking results in limited results. Whether global thinking is applied to capital formation, supply-chain issues, business development, strategic partnering, distribution or any number of other areas, those leaders who don’t grasp the importance of thinking globally will not endure. Great leaders are externally oriented, hungry for knowledge of the world, and adept at connecting developments and spotting patterns.
- 15. Never Quit: Great leaders refuse to lose…They have an insatiable appetite for accomplishment and results. While they may reengineer or change direction, they will never lose sight of the end game.
Mike Myatt is America’s Top CEO Coach, recognized by Thinkers50 as a global authority on the topic of leadership, a Forbes leadership columnist, author of Leadership Matters, CEO at N2growth, and is a Senior Fellow at the Gordian Institute. His new book, Hacking Leadership: The 11 Gaps Every Business Needs to Close and the Secrets to Closing Them Quickly, is available on Amazon.