DNA of Great Leaders
Five Attributes that Great Leaders have.
While there are many attributes, behaviors and actions that make up great leaders, my experience has shown me the following five attributes are key ingredients to great leaders that ultimately get shit done and deliver results while creating a great culture and environment for their teams. The below provides a visualization with context that will help you understand the five most important attributes of a great leader.
1. Changing the field of play is about being a #visionary and taking #innovative approaches to create sustainable value to your customers. It is freely bucking conventional wisdom to see and do things differently to implement new approaches and create unique value. This requires passionate energy to inspire and motivate your team in a way that gets them comfortable with going against the grain and seeing things through a different lens. An innovative leader needs to be a strong collaborator to ensure that the team is constantly aligned and does not fall back to conventional patterns or become complacent after the first transformation. Not surprising is that these leaders abhor complacency as it is one of the things that keeps them up at night.
2. Decisiveness is having the ability to make tough decisions after thoughtfully considering others’ views (collaboration) or when there is little information. This requires strong critical thinking skills, the ability to anticipate future obstacles and agility in overcoming unanticipated challenges. One of the biggest differentiators between a large enterprise and an entrepreneur start-up is the ability to decide quickly and take calculated risk to advance their strategy, offering or key initiatives. Too often, large enterprises wait until they have beaten out every ounce of risk in a plan before they get started. Worse is that they fear or are embarrassed by failure. #Entrepreneurial companies know that they cannot avoid risk or failures and feel that getting started is most important. They then subscribe to a “fail fast” approach that allows them to recognize small failures are inevitable and the key is to recognize, admit and learn from them to make necessary pivots on the path to success. Decisive leaders embrace failure and are neurotic about learning from them while continuing to advance a goal.
3. Agility is embodied by a leader that has demonstrated an adaptive and nimble approach in driving business outcomes. #Agility is having the fortitude to embrace uncertainty and failure to move first and then learn, pivot/adjust to accelerate success. It is demonstrating resiliency when faced with unexpected obstacles and most importantly the ability to bounce through challenges until success is achieved. Agility is inextricably linked to decisiveness and embracing failure. Being confident in your agility to overcome setbacks and failures will allow you to embrace failure more opening. This captures the essence of effective change management and a high standard of personal and team accountability.
4. Ruthless Execution is simply the proven ability to Get Shit DONE or EXECUTE the goal! The key ingredient here is the ability to prioritize the efforts of yourself and team on those few key things that will deliver results. Good execution requires incredible GRIT and commitment to overcome adversity and challenges in the pursuit of successful outcomes.
5. Builder of Leaders is having an undying commitment to develop leaders around you. Building leaders begins with being energized and displaying an energizing, inspirational presence that motivates the team to achieve beyond what they thought was possible. It is about providing constant coaching and feedback while letting your team experience failure and adversity. A strong leader can effectively communicate, collaborate and empower the team in a fashion that translates strategy into results while building future leaders.
During my 12 years as the President & COO of a technology company, I was fortunate to have many great leaders espousing these characteristics. This leadership approach allowed us to execute challenging transformations, achieve industry leadership, and achieve the following impressive results:
1. Consistently achieving top decile employee engagement scores (averaging 75), which lead to;
2. Customer satisfaction scores above 95% for the last 8 years, which lead to:
3. Industry leading growth – industry grew at 2% while we grew more than 10-fold that with a 25% CAGR over the last 10 years. This lead to the team growing the company from $17M to over $170M, while;
4. Achieving industry leading profitability in terms of both gross margins and EBITDA margins.
We are applying these same principles in the reinvention of Vology as we establish industry leadership in the rapidly evolving Digital Transformation services space.
Below is an infographic of the 5 proven habits of great leaders.