Leading Blog






10.27.06

Five Qualities of Great Leaders

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In The Nature of Leadership, Joseph White writes,"To be a great leader, you have to be successful at achieving change—important, consequential change in the results for which you are responsible. Making change successfully is a leader's greatest challenge." To this end a great leader utilizes the following qualities to produce results and make change.
  • INNOVATION: Great leaders are original thinkers, and often contrarians. They are usually guided by a few big, revolutionary ideas. For Abraham Lincoln, it was eliminating slavery. For Ronald Reagan, it was crushing Communism. For Warren Buffett, it was finding a way to make the frowned-upon practice of putting all your nest eggs into a single basket pay off for investors.

  • RISK TAKING: Great leaders are informed risk takers with a track record (but never a perfect record) of success. They act decisively, not recklessly, to maximize lucky breaks. Herb Kelleher took full advantage of the deregulation of the airline industry in 1978 by launching Southwest Airlines.

  • SPOTTING TALENT: Great leaders have an insatiable appetite for outstanding talent. They know they need people different from themselves, and stronger and smarter, to achieve their aspirations. Steve Jobs, a very smart entrepreneur, recognized that he needed strong, professional leadership for his promising start-up. He set his sights on John Sculley, an outstanding executive slated to become CEO of PepsiCo, as the ideal CEO for Apple Computers. Then, he worked to sell Sculley on joining him in running Apple.

  • HELICOPTER VIEW: Great leaders have an extraordinary sense of perspective. They routinely put an immediate challenge into a larger context of the past, the future, and current events, while keeping the organization’s mission and practical consequences firmly in mind. With the creation of GE Healthcare and his “eco-imagination” strategy, Jeff Immelt, General Electric’s new CEO, has reflected Jack Welch’s quality-improvement philosophy while encouraging innovation, anticipating future trends, and responding to environmental realities.

  • THE SPARKLE FACTOR: Great leaders have presence. Every great leader, regardless of his or her personality, has a special, compelling something. There’s no formula for “sparkle.” But you know it when you see it. Barak Obama, the junior U.S. Senator from Illinois, is intelligent, well spoken, warm, energetic, and thoughtful. He has the sparkle factor in abundance, which will give him an edge if he tries to become America’s first African-American president.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 04:30 AM
| Comments (0) | This post is about Leadership



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