Newsletter 13: Five Qualities of Successful Leaders

From Adam Bryant’s book, The Corner Office, he distilled five qualities of successful leaders.

He outlined: “What I really tried to do is understand what it is about these people that explains … why they kept getting promoted.”

  1. The first [quality] is passion and curiosity. That really refers to a deep sense of engagement with the world – a questioning mind. [People who exhibit this quality] are interested in people, interested in things. When they go into a situation, they try to figure out, “How does this work and how can it be made to work better?”.
  1. The second one is battle-hardened confidence, which really refers to having a track record of facing down adversity and knowing what you’re capable of, because at all points in our lives we get put on the hot seat in stressful situations. These CEOs had faced down that adversity, and there was that quiet confidence. They knew what they were capable of.
  1. The third one is team smarts, which is the organisational equivalent of street smarts…. You have a good antenna for meeting dynamics and a good sense of how to bring people together.
  1. The fourth one is what I call a simple mindset, and that really refers to the ability to distil a lot of information down into the one or two or three things that matter. When you stand up in front of a group of employees, you don’t want to say to them, “These are the 12 things I want you to think about this year.” You really want to give them one, two or three because that’s what people can remember. On those days, CEOs really earn their paycheque if they can take a very complicated portfolio company and say, “These are the three things that matter.”
  1. The last one is fearlessness, which is really just a bias toward action – not recklessness, but a willingness to take risks and to see things that need to be turned upside down or inside out to be improved. The CEOs that I’ve interviewed had reverence in their voices when they talk about this quality of fearlessness.


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