I was on location with a client recently, developing an executive candidate profile for a search we will be launching soon. While there, I had the opportunity to pick the brains of incredibly talented and respected executives who represent the public, private, and non-profit sectors. In our discussions regarding the most critical characteristics frequently found in highly effective leaders, these common themes emerged:
- Lead by Example: The behavior of the top executive sets the tone and example for the rest of the organization.
- Accountable: Is 100% accountable for work performance of
all those s/he leads, and embraces the responsibility of holding team
- Superior Interpersonal Skills: Masters the art of being able to
connect with anyone regardless of title or role. S/he exhibits a
genuine interest in everyone with whom s/he engages.
- Not Entitled by Title: Whether a CEO of a major corporation or a
high level government official, the most effective leaders don’t let
their titles define them or allow it to inflate their egos.
- Careful Listeners and Observers: Part of being an outstanding
communicator means being a thoughtful listener. Great leaders are adept
at not only processing information, but weighing in at the right time
as well. In addition, they are lifelong students of human behavior.
- Unequivocal Standards: Respected executives hold the line when
it comes to realizing exceptionally high standards and expectations.
High standards influence corporate culture along with the feel and
durability of the brand.
- Invests Time Wisely: Simply stated, being a good time manager
helps one balance the never ending stream of competing priorities that
are common to any CEO’s universe.
- Seeks Advice and Counsel: Confident in his/her own abilities,
adept leaders don’t hesitate to tap the knowledge and skills of their
vast network. They appreciate the power of seeking advice and counsel
of others instead of viewing this as a weakness.
- Invites the Ideas of Others: The best at the top respect that
innovation and solutions can come from anywhere and anyone. Their
openness and proactive pursuit of ideas can enhance a collaborative
culture and strengthen the creativity of any team.
- Unflappable Demeanor: Whether there’s a natural disaster, major
operational breakdown, or some other kind of drama, truly effective
leaders are cool, calm and collected - regardless of the circumstance.
These are characteristics that should be evaluated during the interview process. For candidates, this is a helpful list that can help you define and articulate the strength of your individual leadership profile. For the hiring decision makers and influencers, this list can be used to inspire relevant interview questions that dive deeper into specific sociological dynamics of your desired executive. The good news is these characteristics can be learned, and by becoming aware of them, you can consciously strive to refine how they are practiced. After all, the best leaders lead by example.
Teri Black-Brann is President/CEO of a Los Angeles-based executive search firm dedicated to serving the public sector. She is a lifelong student of high performing leaders and is recognized for delivering highly personalized and customized services. Teri Black & Company, LLC has recruited hundreds of local government executives for communities of all sizes across the western United States.
Copyright © 2013 Teri Black & Company,
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