Decoding Leadership: What Really Matters

by Ron

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That’s the title of a recent McKinsey Quarterly Report.  Great stuff.  What does really matter?

In typical McKinsey style they described their survey approach:

  • We started with our own list and relevant literature list of 20 traits.
  • We surveyed a large number of people
  • In a large number of organizations
  • Compared it to our healthy organization index
  • Boiled it down to 4 traits that explained 89% of the differences between strong and weak organizations in terms of leadership effectiveness.

Big organizations like McKinsey are really good at doing these large scale analysis projects and I really appreciate their ability to do it and their willingness to share it.

4 Traits explained nearly 90% of the difference between good and bad leadership effectiveness.  What were the four (you should be asking at this point)?

  • Being supportive
  • Operate with strong results orientation
  • Seek different perspectives
  • Solve problems effectively

The article doesn’t indicate that these are in any particular order so for our evaluation let’s separate out the 2nd one, Operate with strong results orientation.  People want to accomplish things.  People want to build, create, produce, provide goods and services that other people value.  Without both sides of that equation: people wanting valuable products and people wanted to produce value, there would be no commerce at all.  Yes, we all want results.  All too often leaders assume that people don’t want to produce and don’t realize that it’s the culture and structure that they’ve created that prevents them from doing so.

The other three require a humility and openness to accomplish.

Being supportive requires that I’m interested in who you are, how you think and what you want to create and accomplish.

Being open to your perspectives requires that I’m interested in who you are, how you think and what you want to create and accomplish.

Being good at solving problems effectively requires that I’m interested in who you are, how you think and what you want to create and accomplish.

Being supportive, open and a good problem solver requires humility!

Every piece of valid research on leadership effectiveness you find will somehow have its foundation based on humility.  Ego and hubris reflect the needs of the person in the leadership position.  Humility starts with the needs of the people being led.

 

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