Our conversations with the country’s top CEOs and MDs suggest essential leadership traits for organisational success
In the months leading up to our Executive Leadership Summit, we asked our speakers “what are the essential qualities that leaders should possess?”
Their answers ranged from characteristics and traits that they already have in their tool kit to qualities that they aim to cultivate in themselves and others within their teams.
A total of 20 speakers participated in the interview – all front-line CEOs and MDs from businesses of all shapes and sizes.
In summarising their responses, a list comprising of 10 leadership qualities were identified. The top 3 on the list suggest that these are essential to organisational success regardless of their size or industry.
The executives who participated in the interview have identified ‘communication’ as the most critical skill to have in your leadership tool kit. They emphasised the ability to articulate the company’s goals and vision, educate and inform as foundations to developing healthy relationships. They also underlined ‘active listening’ as the key component to communicating powerfully.
Other abilities related to communication were mentioned including – inspiring and motivating others, collaborating and promoting teamwork.
Closely tied at the top of the list is ‘authenticity’ which the participating executives defined as “leading in a manner that is true to oneself.” Authenticity has also been identified as critical to leadership success in terms of honest and transparent engagement with employees, partners and customers. Integrity, social and ethical responsibility were also mentioned as related characteristics to leading with authenticity.
Finally, our participants rank “courage” on the 3rd spot as a defining quality of good leadership, adding “the ability to confront risk and uncertainty is a quality that distinguishes great leaders from competent managers.” The ability for bold and decisive action, going against the norm, starting revolutionary change to inspire and energise the team are some of the qualities mentioned that define courageous leadership.
Different business situations demand different leadership styles. However, the interview responses of this small group of leaders all seem to point to common leadership qualities that remain relevant and essential in today’s business.
So, what’s the takeaway message in this? While this was a small, informal study, what we can take away is the need to focus on these core qualities when developing future business leaders.