You may or may not want to make it to the corner office, but no doubt you do want to succeed. If you’re a manager, you might want to take a look at the NYT’s article on “Distilling the Wisdom of CEO’s.” Adam Bryant who writes “The Corner Office,” a weekly article on leadership skills, distilled the five essential traits that 70 CEOs say lead to ultimate success. We’re summarizing here and adding some examples of CEOs or founders of companies that are featured in our leadership training videos :
1. Passionate Curiosity: Asking “why” questions unearths opportunities. Just “because it’s always been done” doesn’t mean there isn’t a better way to do it or an opportunity to innovate.
- Leadership Videos: Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Intel’s Andy Grove, Body Shop founder Anita Roddick are some of the entrepreneurs featured in short video clips showing how they thought through innovation and opportunities.
2. Battle-hardened Confidence: People who have dealt with adversity and have overcome it. Does someone take ownership of a challenge or look for excuses? “I’ve seen in my own career that perseverance is really important”, said Nancy McKinstry, chief executive of Wolters Kluwer, a Dutch publishing company. She sees this trait in people who have overcome adversity ….”because they’re able to sort of fall down, dust themselves off, and keep fighting the next day.”
- Leadership Videos: Richard Branson, founder of Virgin calls this failing fast so you reach success that much quicker.
3. Team Smarts: Having good peripheral vision. Sensing how people react to one another, not just how they act. So many teams today are ad hoc and formed around the need to accomplish a common goal. Susan Lyne, Chairman of the Gilt Groupe says, “The people who truly succeed in business are the ones who actually have figured out how to mobilize people who are not their direct reports.”
- Team Building Videos: Bill Bradley, former NBA basketball star, a master at interacting with teammates, says good leadership and personal fulfillment is much more about “we” than “I” and making sure the whole team wins.
4. A Simple Mind-Set: All that stuff they teach you in college and B-school where the number of pages mattered? Forget it. Become like a journalist and get to the “point” quickly. You’ve heard of ‘death by PowerPoint’, where lengthy presentations show how much someone knows or has researched a topic. Everyone can get information thanks to the Internet. The value is in synthesizing the information and connecting the dots by asking smart questions that lead to untapped opportunities.
- Effective Communication Skills Videos: AOL founder Steve Case says a key trait is in listening when you ask those smart questions and noticing the patterns… Yes, and connecting the dots.
5. Fearlessness: Entrepreneurs have this in boatloads. It’s that ability to take calculated risks and be uncomfortable. Ursula M. Burns, CEO of Xerox, says, “One of the things I characterize as fearlessness is seeing an opportunity, even though things are not broken.”
- Leadership Videos: Intel co-founder Andy Grove is a great example of fearlessness. He bet Intel’s future on micro-computer chips when Intel was very profitable making chips for mainframe computers.