We recently worked with a well-known company in Asia.
They have a proud history of innovation and product design. The business is successful, yet the CEO is concerned.
Silos, complacency and bureaucracy are slowing them down. People are working hard but they are not working together.
The business is slowly turning inward.
They are starting to do business with themselves.
The customer is no longer front and centre.
This worries the CEO.
The company built its success on creativity, focus, bold moves and the discipline of delivery. As it grew this got lost along the way.
To give us an outside-in view we invited the CEO of a technology start-up to speak to the Executive Team. This tech business is three years old.
It’s growing rapidly and disrupting an established industry.
They are winning new clients from larger companies who are finding it hard to change.
Her core advice was, “start by picking the right leaders. This is the key.”
She then described the 4 vital qualities she looks for in the leaders in her organisation.
- A track record of triumphing over adversity.
“There is probably always a valid excuse for every failure. We look for people who overcome those valid excuses” she explained. “Change is tough and adversity is a constant companion. People must be able to get back quickly onto their feet after a setback and try again.”
- No politics, no bureaucracy, no poison.
“These are the real obstacles,” she said. “I look for people who are totally collaborative. Not culture breakers. People who get the short-term numbers but damage the organisation in the long run.”
- A desire to contribute and make a difference.
“People must be driven by the difference they can make in the world. When personal gain is the first thing on people’s minds it’s difficult to unlock and scale the power of teamwork.”
- Listening is vital.
“Leaders must walk the line between telling and listening,” she said. “Find out what’s really going on. Put tools in place for listening. Skip levels. Know what needs to be done on the ground.” She cautioned; “If people are not heard and obstacles not removed they stop caring and lose their desire to make a difference.”
Her closing words struck a chord …
“Everyone’s intelligent. Nowadays that’s a given. But we are trying to get to the future faster than our competition and they have far greater resources than we do. All four of these qualities are necessary, above intelligence, so we can innovate and stay ahead.”
Watch the 4 Vital Leadership Qualities video above
I was struck by her clarity and conviction.
How has the CEO responded?
It’s still early days. But he’s hard at work rebuilding the top team.
The contribution of the Tech CEO was extremely valuable. It was a timely reminder of something obvious yet often overlooked.
They set the pace and the tone. They create hope and confidence.
Or they don’t!
And so, getting the right people in the key seats has become his number 1 priority. Skills are important but personal qualities even more so.
The next step will be to build cohesion and create clarity.
Moulding the team and setting laser sharp priorities (that meet customer needs) is so important right now. So too is aligning resources and energy.
But it always starts with the right people. Especially at the top.
So choose your leaders wisely. The qualities they possess and how they behave really matters.
How about your business?
What leadership qualities does your business need to succeed?
- Do you hire for these?
- Do you develop for these?
- Do you reward for these?
- Would you fire for these?
Please let us know by commenting below. We love hearing from you.
If you want to get your top team fired up in the new year contact me to find out how: email@example.com