The Seven Best Leadership Traits From Leaders Throughout My Career
This is the 21st year of my career and I have worked across the full spectrum of business.
From running two of my own consultancies, tiny three-person businesses, family-run businesses with multiple interests, startups at different phases from post sell through to IPO and seeing the exec team ring the opening bell, through to working in M&A and acquiring other businesses and integrating them into the organisation, and I have worked within large listed businesses that operate so differently to all of the other business.
I wanted to share the best leadership traits and lessons from my experience.
Time Management ⏰ – Ruthless prioritisation over time blocking, time management and being able to remove time as a barrier or being able to move projects and campaigns on with managing time.
Those in back to back meetings and not owning their calendars often struggle with other core leadership traits.
Knowledge Retention 🧠 – The best execs and leaders work at an incredible pace and retain important pieces of information alongside deadlines as if it is the only piece of information provided to them that day. Being able to handle and remember important points per project to keep colleagues accountable.
Very often driving a project forward with the information provided and understanding so well they can discuss at many different levels.
Knowledge retention helps with time management and communication. There is a correlation between those who retain knowledge and keep their own notes.
Communication 🗣 – From handling how to communicate clearly in every situation especially when in writing and in person, to having objectives around each interaction. Poor leaders are bad at communicating and putting across their vision to teams. The highest 1% of leaders work hard on communication and continuously improve their communication skills.
Communication is very often the difference between those who buy into the leadership and those who don’t.
Objectives & Interactions 🥅 – Something that stood out from one incredible COO of a listed company was their ability to understand and retain information from many different technical departments and she was able to create clear objectives and interact with numerous stakeholders. This particular COO learnt from every interaction to big moments in QBR’s.
Many exes struggle with interacting with those they do not work with regularly, the best have a great way of talking to anyone from any level and create objectives from these conversations.
Objectives are often the best method leaders have to keep their people accountable and drive interactions.
Organisation Design 🕸 – Org design is often the most challenging for startups and upstarts, building out the organisation and hiring the right people to develop these departments challenges even the most experienced and often is the difference between short and mid-term success. Don’t hire and build an org on a pain point or skills pain point, build around sets of problems.
Org design is often seen as a way to build more hierarchy and grow (or reduce) headcount but also is a way for leaders to reshape trust, organisational health, culture and develop people in the business and those around them.
Cutting Through BS 🔪- Even the best leaders within businesses are often so busy they struggle to manage direct reports and cut through BS especially with long term colleagues. The elite leaders can cut through excuses, misdirections and very often drive change by cutting through others BS, particularly underperforming department leads. The elite also from experience drives change, from not accepting weak and vague answers. This often results in loyalty not being rewarded but change and growth being rewarded instead.
Being able to cut through BS at any level is essential, if your BS radar does not improve with experience you are likely not learning lessons or losing important political intelligence battles around you.
Long Term Vision 👩💼 – The very best leaders show they understand where the business is going, how their industry will change and be focused on the long term, they ensure departments action 1 year ahead, they plan 3 years ahead and plan for the 5 pending years. They are almost unwavering in the vision and allow others to build into the vision while trusting those around them and beneath them to plan and deliver the plan.
Without a focus on long term vision and being in the driving seat, often executives, founders and co-founders lose their influence and can often misalign the departments.
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