What makes a good CEO? And which leadership qualities are critical to navigate a company through the current crop of economic and marketplace challenges?
Leadership traits — particularly at the C-suite level — have long been a focus of business journals and researchers, and each generation seems to have its favorites. Which ones are currently in vogue? We’re here to help.
We’ve selected some of the best articles on leadership attributes, identified by researchers and experts — and the odd rapper/actor/producer/millionaire — for this week’s article roundup. Enjoy.
C is for Curiosity
A recent PwC survey of over a thousand CEOs surfaced curiosity as a critical trait for leaders, reports bestselling author Warren Berger. In his article “Why Curious People Are Destined for the C-Suite” in Harvard Business Review, Berger explores the practical ways that curiosity can result in great leadership.
Curiosity is important in a constantly changing marketplace, Berger contends. Not only do good questions inspire fresh thinking and lively debates, but leaders who frame company challenges as opportunities for inquiry can better mobilize and inspire a team to overcome them.
To many, this advice might sound pat, but Berger argues that this focus can be quite a departure from leadership traits valued in the past, when great managers were those who provided solutions and fixes, not more questions. It also takes a savvy leader to manage the ripples that a “question everything” culture might create.
Berger’s thoughts on how curiosity can spark a growth culture — even inside established companies — is intriguing. This article, and the survey it draws from, are good food for thought for all leaders, even those not yet in the CEO’s office.
C is for Collaborative
In “The Myth of the Larger-Than-Life Leader,” author and journalist David Zweig writes about the quieter side of leadership. For every “rockstar” CEO, like Steve Jobs, there are dozens of highly accomplished leaders who find success without taking a starring role.
Zweig, who wrote a book on this more behind-the-scenes style of leadership, reports that although these quieter leaders have positions of great authority, they manage their teams as firsts-among-equals who value collaboration above status. An example of this is Mission Impossible cinematographer Robert Elswit, who commands a on-set crew and hundreds of moving parts in a low-key manner that emphasizes collective decision-making.
Zweig also explores whether flashy leadership can ultimately be harmful to a company’s culture and bottom line. If you’re quieter than most, and wondering how you fit into the leadership ranks, this article will broaden your perspective on what it means to lead.
C is for Cultivating Good Habits
Marketing manager Rob Wormley contends that great leaders are grown, not born. In his article “The Top Leadership Qualities Every Manager Needs” he profiles seven leadership traits, culled from experts and research, that leaders — and those that aspire to leadership — should cultivate.
The seven traits he cites are a fresh take on a well-plumbed field of leadership advice. The qualities — such as advocacy and transparency, two of the seven — stay true to his thesis that these are behaviors to learn, not inherent talents, and he follows up with specific examples of how leaders can demonstrate that trait better in the workplace.
Grooming yourself for these qualities will work no matter whether your leadership style is flashy or quiet. It’s good advice for early-career management and anyone looking to up their leadership game.
C is for Collegial
Having friends at the office increases employee satisfaction, but navigating office friendships can be tricky, especially if you’re leading a team. In an article for Fast Company, John Rampton, founder of Due, advises us on “How to be a Boss and a Friend.”
First, Rampton advises, see your own role as simply part of the team. This outlook puts everyone on a collegial footing, which fosters collaboration and trust.
So what shouldn’t you do? Rampton argues for not connecting over social media, or for pushing the bonding outside of work hours.
The art, as you might have expected, is in the balancing of being personable and professional. If you’ve been stuck in your corner office or see mingling as mixed blessing, this article might convince you to venture out.
A C (Suite) Thang
We end with a Quartz article that begins as improbably as it sounds, but ends up delivering sound, sage advice. Inspired by a tweet where rapper/producer Snoop Dogg volunteered his services as Twitter’s CEO, bestselling author James Altucher culled through Snoop’s quotable legacy to find “Ten Lessons From Snoop Dogg on Being a Better CEO.”
Snoop’s advice? Surround yourself with excellence, go broad with your career interests, and have a healthy, holistic definition of success. This all may sound more 7 Habits than 7 Days but it’s relayed in a way that only Snoop could deliver.
It’s certainly a fun read — and chances are you’ll come also come away with something to chew on. The lessons are apt for any leader, even those of us not mapping a path to the C-suite at all.
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