Effective Leadership Traits for Executives
Executive leadership comes with no shortage of challenges. In today’s fast-paced and highly competitive business world, your executive resume may highlight projects in which you were relied upon to build high-caliber teams, lead cross-company strategy engagements, and drive growth—all while managing competitive positioning, business economics, and key financial drivers.
Incorporating an entrepreneurial approach to continually evaluating, tweaking, and honing your leadership talents can certainly boost your reputation, credibility, and value—and possibly lead to progressively higher roles.
Annual self-assessments have the potential to steer us down a path of self-discovery, where we can ask ourselves whether we are continuing to remain alert and forward-thinking regarding the competitive landscape and unearthing new opportunities—while keeping the pulse on associated business risks.
When it comes to receiving a year-end assessment, most of us place that experience just above receiving a root canal—unless we are 100 percent sure that assessment has nothing in it but pure, unadulterated praise that results in those never-heard words: “How much money can we offer you to keep your excellent skills and talent with our organization?”
What makes this an even more daunting task is that you are not assessing someone else’s professional resume of skills, talents, and opportunity for growth; you are assessing your own CEO-level resume of contributions, enterprise-wide improvements, and successes. We are not talking about generalities but specifics. What will it take for you to be a leader who brings about true, positive, measurable change and direction to your stakeholders, team or entire organization?
Let’s take a look at some valuable leadership traits for today’s business environment:
One of the first things, and arguably the most crucial part of assessing oneself, is how you attract, relate to, and convert potential customers as the digital age continues to shape the way in which we live, work, and play. Leaders who are influential on both corporate and virtual platforms are perceived to be head-and-shoulders above the competition.
According to a recent Nielsen Survey, U.S. consumers spend 20 percent of their online time and 30 percent of their Smartphone time on social media—accounting for a whopping 121 billion minutes each month—while 20 percent of all companies said they’d only started to dedicate any of their budget toward social media marketing or advertisement in the past year.
Plus, 7 out of 10 indicated that they dedicated 10 percent or less of their overall online advertising budget to paid social media. This area is still new to most companies. The market-savvy CEO, COO, or CIO whose resume shows that he or she is a master of this domain will become priceless.
Once you look at how you interact with your potential customers, you should evaluate how you are engaging with your team, vendors, and cross-company leaders to ensure the brand is properly represented. The key word is likeability. This doesn’t mean that you smile a lot and hand out raises like doughnuts—although if this is you, I am sure your employees love you, even if your investors don’t. It has a lot to do with how you interact with your employees on a daily basis.
You must display a positive, can-do attitude, and executive presence—even when things look bumpy. According to Joseph Folkman of Forbes, if a leader displays positive and optimistic emotions, so will his employees. Show your employees that you have integrity.
Simply put, we like those we trust, we dislike those we distrust. This—along with conceiving a strategic outlook deeply rooted in sound operational practices with meaningful measurement systems in place to gauge operational effectiveness, and cultivating an employee-focused culture where individuals are given challenging work assignments—will decrease your attrition and increase your bottom line.
Communication & Employee Engagement:
This one falls hand-in-hand with developing trust. Everyone can agree that information represents power. The twist comes in when we believe that by keeping that information to ourselves, it will give us a superior edge over our employees. This usually has just the opposite effect; it makes you appear weak and ineffective.
Keep in mind I am not asking you to share the Colonel’s secret recipe with your team, but what I am suggesting is that if you have any information that will improve the performance of a particular member of your team, or assist someone with decreasing the workload and increasing production, give it to them.
Providing employees with meaningful work, equipping them with the tools they need to perform their jobs, and keeping them in the loop regarding information that impacts their jobs are key aspects of an engaged culture. Understand that if any portion of the company profits, the entire company profits.
You will need to embrace change. Open your mind to new corporate ideas, and learn to market them to your team as well as your bosses. Understand that with new ideas changes may arise. You also must be the leader who can implement those changes. Use this opportunity to inspire others to reach deeper within themselves. As always, be receptive to constructive feedback—and use that information to make continual improvements that can fuel your personal and professional growth.
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