10 Characteristics of Confident & Compelling Leadership
Absolutely regardless of your personal definition of success, there are a number of common characteristics that are possessed and shared by effective and objectively successful people. I have been extremely fortunate to meet and interact with, and learn from, some of these people over the past couple of years. I am always very excited to – following my interactions with well-known CEO’s or successful business people that I meet – identify qualities we share and those that I admire that I want to perfect and embody for myself in my professional, and even personal, life.
Following a meeting last week with one organization’s CEO that I profoundly admire, I wanted to reflect on what was so dynamic and energizing about spending two hours truly listening to this person’s vision and plan for the business. I spent the train ride home making a list of reverential qualities surrounding this person and comparing it with other interactions I have had with different executives that I both admire and that I find interesting for a variety of reasons.
After really digging into the common characteristics surrounding the most successful, charismatic, and compelling people I have met I came across these great qualities that are shared by those that I most admire. Though there are so many more great competencies that I have seen and discovered, these are the shared and consistent ones I identify as significantly powerful, impactful, and what I aspire to daily.
THEY ENJOY WHAT THEY DO: They can very easily and energetically articulate their purpose, and vision, for the business. Successful people truly understand that what you get out of your business each and every day, will be the sum of what you put into it. So if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, in all likelihood, it will be difficult to get others to find alignment with a bland, zero-charisma plan of action, and in that case – you are destined to fail.
THEY PLAN ALMOST EVERYTHING: Planning every aspect of your business is not only a must, but also builds great habits that every executive should create disciplines around, implement, and maintain. The act of business planning is so important because it requires you to analyze each business possibility, research and compile true data, and make assumptions and conclusions based mainly on the facts as revealed through your exploration. A focused business plan also serves a secondary function, which is having your goals paired with a road-map as to how you will achieve them with your team, documented. You can use the road-map as a yardstick to measure the success of each individual plan or segment within the plan. This allows you to make adjustments and adapt the plan to the reality of the business. These are people that in a million years would never use hope as a strategy, they’re too smart and driven for that.
THEY TAKE WHAT THEY DO VERY SERIOUSLY: I believe this is for a couple reasons and the primary reason is that they know they hold the livelihood of their people in their hands, as well as their own. The leaders I respect most put their employees first and their customers next. They do not capriciously make decisions – they are guided by their vision and their values. They are radically honest with themselves and those around them. They are inclusive when it comes to making important decisions and do so with the data and determination needed to be effective and course the right path for their organization, team, and customer experience.
THEY ARE GREAT SELF-PROMOTERS [WITHOUT BEING OBNOXIOUS]: These leaders understand the power of communication and the vital need to get people behind their vision and believing in their compelling purpose. To do this you have to be able to engage people around your plan – you have to be a magnet for talent and innovation. People want to work with exciting, smart, captivating leaders. Great leaders are thrilling to listen to, learn from, and follow. These are passionate speakers and they communicate with ease. They show emotion and feeling in their words and actions – which are all aligned behind their vision and they build trust through transparency about themselves, their successes, and their failures. They are masterful storytellers.
THEY PROJECT A VERY POSITIVE BUSINESS IMAGE: When I think of great business images I don’t think of t-shirts and hoodies and that is one of the things I have had to adapt and adjust my perspective around. I still find tremendous value in dressing for business and the leaders that I most admire and enjoy following are those who are professional in every way. I find the most fascinating leaders to be impressive, both mentally and aesthetically. You have but a passing moment to make a positive and memorable impression on people with whom you intend to do business and who you need on your side to be truly successful. This particular quality reminds me of a Howard Stern interview several years ago with Joan Rivers – she mentioned that even if she was simply going to the market she would get completely made up [as was her usual style]. She said that it may be the only time people would see her and she wanted to leave a great and consistent impression because that was her brand. Brilliant!
THEY BUILD A FABULOUS TEAM: They take the time needed to surround themselves with incredible talent. Talent that will question the status-quo. Talent that will deliver solutions to the business to propel the organization forward. Truly great leaders refuse to allow politicking mediocrity to muddy the waters of their organization and negatively impact the culture. They demand a bias towards action and a strong culture of accountability. They weed people out – quickly – who seek to create conflict or impede the progress of their team.
THEY ARE KNOWN AS EXPERTS: We see fabulous leaders interviewed, quoted, sought after all the time. The more you become known for your expertise in your business, the more people will seek you out to tap into that knowledge, creating more selling and promotional opportunities for your organization and for your reputation. Effective leaders understand that becoming known as an expert is another style of prospecting for your business, just in reverse. Again, becoming a magnet for both talent and customers for the organization.
THEY ARE ACCESSIBLE & INVOLVED: The build a solid relationship with their teams. They know them and through that rapport they can gauge what the individuals and aggregate team needs from them [i.e. communication, feedback [both providing and receiving], support, etc.]. Through the consistent and open contact the team feels comfortable surfacing innovative idea and solutions that will support and sustain business growth. They feel connected to the business because they are working collaboratively with a leader who is invested and involved with everyone’s success, growth, contribution, and – ultimate – happiness.
THEY KNOW WHAT THEY DON’T KNOW: Confident and smart people surround themselves with people who are smarter than they are. It’s very cliché…but the clichés exist for a reason. Some of the most remarkable executives and leaders I have met don’t presume to know about areas of the business that they are not comfortable with. They ensure they have the right talent in place that can adapt, grow, and stay nimble around their area of expertise to evolve that portion of the business in conjunction with other areas. The most successful executives and leaders frequently stand back and look beyond today to determine what’s in the best interest of the business. Most will tell you that from the time they started out, they knew what they were good at and what to delegate to others.
THEY HAVE SPECTACULAR FOLLOW UP: Great leadership does not leave any results to chance. They deliberately set forth on a planned path to deliver sound communication, engagement, and action around their objectives and goals. Constant contact, follow-up, and follow-through with your team, your candidates, your customers, stakeholders, and your business partners is [and should be] the mantra of every great leader. Constant and consistent follow-up enables you to deliver on your organization’s promise and purpose.