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The Traits of Successful Leadership

Build successful leaders by focusing on creating alignment and synergy throughout the organization.

October 17, 2012
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Related Topics: Leadership Development, Leadership Development
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Successful leaders are perceived as admired, respected and trusted. Great leaders are self-aware and lead with intent and purpose. Leaders who create organizational alignment become catalysts for other leaders to emulate.

Overall, successful leaders:

Close the gap between how they view themselves and how others view them by viewing their leadership through the lens of others. This involves seeking feedback. To be effective, leaders must leave their egos at the door and seek open and honest feedback from individuals who are critical to their success. Leaders must also be attentive to feedback. If they aren’t communicating, leaders must seek to understand what is preventing them from communicating.

View feedback as information rather than criticism. Feedback is information that helps successful leaders prosper; it brings clarity and empowers leaders to get stronger. Unsuccessful leaders, on the other hand, view feedback as criticism, discounting feedback that is contrary to self-perception. Leaders must view feedback as information.

Remove barriers that exist and take ownership for how they are perceived. Successful leaders determine what is standing in the way from being perceived more favorably. They take responsibility for not being perceived with admiration, respect and trust. They identify the actions needed to be perceived more favorably.

Moving forward, they adjust by leading intentionally. Over time, perceptions begin to change as leaders begin to consistently work to be admired, respected and trusted. This requires leaders to commit to continuously working on themselves.

Unsuccessful leaders who lead egocentrically do not have the ability to lead intentionally. Ignoring contrary feedback, such leaders take a defensive posture and do not have the ability to remove barriers that exist.

Create business synergy by establishing clear business strategies, goals and objectives. These leaders have a clear sense of not only what needs to be done, but how it needs to get done. They devise a strategy that will drive the organization forward. They separate themselves by clearly communicating the strategy and connecting people to the strategy, creating a shared vision across the organization.

Create leadership synergy by managing the external environment. Leaders accomplish this by continuously scanning the environment and staying connected with those who are critical to their success as a leader.

Create team synergy by aligning resources. The right resources at the right time in the right place with the right tools can help leaders achieve remarkable results. They cultivate a culture of team and collaboration, where leveraging talents is an essential value of the organization.

Never stop striving to increase leadership effectiveness. Such leaders understand that as business changes, they will face new leadership challenges that will test their ability to influence. They understand that what worked in the past may not work in the future, and therefore strive to grow and flex their leadership agility.

To remain agile, successful leaders:

• Are clear on their leadership legacy. They know who they want to be as a leader and what impact they intend to impart on those they lead and influence.

• Are continuously introspective. These leaders lead curiously as they seek to understand themselves through the eyes of others.

• Communicate openly, often and with vigor.

• Work tirelessly to make connections and build bonds inside and outside the organization.

• Lead appreciatively.

Larry R. Nordhagen is author of A.R.T.ful Leadership: The Path to be Admired, Respected and Trusted as a Leader. He can be reached at editor@CLOmedia.com.

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