If you do a little research, the list of desired leadership qualities will overwhelm you. You will beg for a shorter list. So, here it is:
1. Vision — If you don’t have vision, you can’t lead. There are times where vision requires predicting future consumer demand or competitors’ offerings. If you blow this, you risk the future of your company. It’s not that you can’t delegate the competitive and market research, because you can. But at the end of the day, it’s just data. You need to rely on your gut and experience and make the call. Look at AOL, once the star of internet providers and now deserted by its users in favor of gmail and others. The word on the street:” It’s not cool to have AOL email.” It took lack of leadership vision big time to let this happen. Now, the company is fighting for survival Look at Blackberry, its leaders had to know that competitive vitality depended on developing a smart phone that could compete with Apple and Droid. But it didn’t happen. Why? Because they calculated that their development team could produce the right product, drinking their own Kool Aid, rather than having the vision to see that their competitors must be doing something they couldn’t do. Envisioning what your competitors have already done is not vision. Now, the company is for sale.
Other times, the use of vision is not so dramatic, but it still exists. Every decision you make is based on what you think will happen next, what impact it will have, what you believe others will do. You get it wrong and it means your vision was off. You will quickly lose the confidence of your people and start getting second guessed.
2. Innovation — Leaders need to innovate. If you think this can be delegated to developers, researchers or marketers, you are wrong. They can produce the possibilities, but a leader needs to connect the dots from different areas, including those outside the company, and make the decisions http://www.forbes.com/sites/barbaraarmstrong/2013/08/15/its-time-to-bring-design-thinking-down-from-on-high/. And don’t think that this is any less true in what looks like a holding company. A great example is GE under Jack Welch. The businesses GE held under his tenure regularly outperformed their competitors. It began with the investment philosophy that Jack brought to GE. And it continued because Jack stayed close enough to these businesses to make the important calls in industries far removed form his past experience.
Innovation also applies to small things. You think great people managers follow published methods? Nothing can be farther from the truth. They use the tools available in innovative ways to engage their people individually and as a team in even the toughest of times. They’d be bored to death if it were any other way!
3. Execution — Leaders get things over the goal line. The one-yard line is not good enough. President Obama just learned this lesson. ObamaCare made it through Congress. It even survived a challenge in the Supreme Court. And it’s still not happening this year as scheduled. Why? The team was not in place to execute. The President will get a second chance, but now he will have to wait until after 2014 mid-term elections for ObamaCare to be fully effective. Bad election results could cost him the farm. We will see.
Shortly, we will be publishing Leading at Leadership, a book that gets into detail on developing great leaders. In the meantime, be a visionary, be innovative and execute!!!