Will your boss lead you to success?
I have had the privilege of working with some truly inspirational leaders throughout my career, some as my bosses, and some as my partners. Looking back, I can identify common traits that they all shared. These traits led them – and our companies – to success. They also helped me develop as a businessman and as a person.
I believe that seven of the most important success traits a leader can have are:
Wisdom: The world – especially the tech world – is packed with very smart people. Raw intelligence is important, but the breakout winners will use this intelligence wisely. They will understand when to push forward and when to pull back. They will be experienced (maybe beyond their years) in understanding people and situations. They will avoid unnecessary conflict but engage passionately to protect the company, their employees and their customers when it matters. Does your boss dazzle with big words, calculations and IQ intelligence – or does she further impress with a unique and innovative perception of your environment?
Passion: Nothing is more inspirational than a leader who loves his work, loves his people and loves his customers. Passion ignites personal accomplishment and more importantly, it ignites a fire for work and success in the whole team. You can hear it in a CEO’s voice when he truly cares about the mission. And it matters.
Confidence: A leader needs to be confident in her mission, and the decisions she makes to support it. In front of her employees, she should be seen as a pillar of strength and support.
An open mind: While exhibiting confidence, a leader should also be receptive to alternative ideas, and even criticism. When evidence supporting a new direction is strong, a CEO who will change course can be seen as both a real teammate for employees and also very confident personally. Flip-flopping is a disaster for sure, but earnest listening and consideration is important for the company. It will allow people on the front lines to effectively contribute, and it will help ensure all employees feel ownership and responsibility for the business. When you speak with your boss, does he really listen, or is he waiting for his turn to speak?
Humility: I love a leader who shoulders blame and responsibility when things go wrong, and even more, one who shares the credit when they go well. When your CEO speaks at company meetings does he use the word “I” a lot, or does he attach a specific employee or team to the progress and accomplishments you have going on? How about when he speaks to the media?
Generosity: A very wise (and successful) business leader once told me: “I have never lost money by being overly generous with my employees.” Since then, I have experienced first hand how true this is. Providing cash, equity or sometimes even just public recognition for a personal job well done or company success is enormously powerful and effective. People will work hard. They will be loyal. And they will play it forward, furthering the positive environment even more. Do you find your boss nickel and diming you or your teammates while personally amassing as much as possible?
Work ethic: There is no substitute for hard work. No matter how wise, passionate, confident, open-minded, humble and generous you are, someone (or some company) out there is trying to take you out. At the end of the day, you have to out-work your competition. A CEO who shows up first and leaves last demonstrates an important understanding of this reality, and sets a powerful example.
How does your boss stack up?