In an article from Harvard Business Review, Ron Carucci reveals the details of a 10-year study that closely analyzed great executives and isolated the best practices they engaged in. Through the course of the study, 2,700 leadership interviews were conducted, which ultimately uncovered seven performance factors that correlated with strong leaders. These factors then lead to the discovery of four reoccurring patterns that distinguish the best of the best:
- Executives are knowledgeable about the entire business.
- Executives are exceptional decision-makers.
- Executives are knowledgeable about their industry.
- Executives develop exceptional relationships.
The great executives know how every piece of the big picture of the organization fits together. It is wonderful to have the technical background in finance and other fields, but the executives who can break free from that mold and push themselves to think differently have the greatest success. Additionally, they will maintain a competitive advantage by strengthening the connection in the entire organization.
Exceptional executives possess the assertion to declare their views and opinions all the while encouraging others to do the same. This inspires confidence from their team. Being able to make decisive choices usually means executives are skilled at prioritizing too. They are able to strike the critical balance between gut instinct and analytics. Fascinatingly, decision-making capabilities appear to be a rarity. In a McKinsey survey of 2,207 executives, only 28% stated that the quality of strategic decisions within their organization was “generally good.”
Industries are constantly evolving and the best executives acknowledge this and do their best to keep up. In order to maintain a competitive advantage, they must be able to anticipate threats and be able to follow trends. This skill can be seen in those who are curious:
The leaders who scored highest on this skill were described as having innate curiosity and deep knowledge of their business context[,] which they apply to wider economic, technological, and customer trends. Armed with a clear point of view, these exemplars more readily addressed threats and took earlier advantage of opportunities. Executives develop context by grounding themselves in external realities of their organization, by remaining curious about adjacent industries, and seeking disconfirming data about commonly held assumptions regarding their company.
The executives who are most popular in the organization are the ones who form the best relationships with their coworkers. They communicate in ways that intrigue their audience as well as exude a persona that they genuinely care about people’s well-being. Of all four areas, communication proved to be the most important in the study, because if relationships are lacking, executives will have a speedy demise.
You can view the original article here: https://hbr.org/2016/01/a-10-year-study-reveals-what-great-executives-know-and-do