I was recently reading a study by the Grossman Group that found that companies whose leaders were rated highly effective had 47% higher returns to shareholders over the last 5 years. Now this is great news but when you couple it with a recent study from the Center for Creative Leadership who estimates that nearly 40% of CEO’s are fired within their first 18 months on the job it begs the question “What does it take to be Highly Effective?” Well, here are the 7 essential areas if developed will accelerate your growth both as a CEO or as you “climb the corporate ladder.”
Leadership: Often lauded as critical to success this word is misused and misunderstood. Here is what I believe is critical for you to being described as having that “it” factor of leadership… cast a clear vision and inspire people to act in support of that vision. Once you have set the vision you have to be able to articulate your expectations and success criteria all will enabling your people to achieve their best. Doing that is what leadership is all about!
Strategic Thinking, Planning and Execution: Everyday, I see leaders who are great at the tactical execution and technical skill necessary for success but all to often they struggle with unleveling their thinking to set direction beyond their immediate purview. Demonstrating strategic thinking is about making the meaningful connections across all stakeholders and crafting innovative strategies to meet the challenges your business faces in the global market.
Industry Expertise: Many are still mourning the loss of boxer Muhammad Ali. Arguably, he was the Greatest Of All Time (GOAT). It is not enough to be an expert in your industry you have to “plant your flag” and do whatever it takes to be THE expert in your industry at something. To do this you have to understand and anticipate emerging trends and how they impact your area of expertise.
Building Relationships: You must have a deep understanding of how to build, develop and lead teams. Learn how to create meaningful relationships with industry peers, aligned industries as well ad at all levels and across all stakeholder communities. It is also important that you learn how to effectively empower others with the appropriate support.
Communication: Who would have thought that something we do every day could be so challenging. Communicating clearly happens when your communication outcomes are clearly planned. For every communication identify what your audience needs to Know, Do, Think, Feel and Have as a result of your communication. Remember the challenge is in understanding that there are three places communication can break down – a disconnect between what you intend to say and what you actually say, what you say and what the listener hears and what the listener hears and the meaning ascribed to the listener. It is up to you as the communicator to insure your intended message was received so always verify that your audience “heard” what you intended.
Lead Change: Change is such a trigger word for so many people. It is my belief that people are not afraid of change they fear being out of control. As a leader it is up to you to make the process of change clear and understandable for your teams. Be transparent about what you can and cannot share. This simple act of clarity typically relieves much the “unknown” stress of change. Set the stage for change by instilling the value of continuous improvement with your teams.
Ethics and Integrity: Your reputation (or personal brand) as a person of integrity is critical to your ability to get results. Make sure your words and actions are consistent. Guard your reputation of ethical conduct. Take accountablity for your results and the results of your team.