Five Skills Every Leader Needs in 2013

StatusQuoWhat’s your game plan for success in 2013?  As leaders we receive plenty of conflicting advice.  Real world insights are hard to come by and sometimes extremely difficult to comprehend.  We all know foresight is better than hindsight, so where can you gather both insight and foresight for the New Year?

If you’re planning on stepping up your game in pursuit of high level performance and greater success in 2013, you have a lot to gain by examining the thoughts and advice garnered from more than seventy-five CEO interviews captured in The Corner Office. The experiences were gathered up by Adam Bryant, a senior editor at The New York Times who writes a weekly feature entitled Corner Office.   Bryant recently gave an interview to Knowledge@Wharton in which he identified five qualities of successful leaders gathered from his interviews with CEOs:

Passion and curiosity. Having a deep sense of engagement with the world — a questioning mind.

Battle-hardened confidence.  Having a track record of facing down adversity and knowing your capabilities.

Team smarts. Having the organizational equivalent of street smarts.

Simple mindset.
  Having the ability to distill a lot of information into the one or two or three things that truly matter.

Fearlessness. 
Having a bias toward action — not recklessness, but a willingness to take risks.

Bryant’s crisp and concise writing draws on his extensive conversations with dozens of top CEOs including Ford Motor Company’s Alan Mulally, Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer, Jeffrey Katzenberg at DreamWorks, Xerox’s Ursula Burns,  David Novak at Yum Brands, and Teach for America CEO Wendy Kopp, among seventy plus others.

As Bryant points out, leadership is not a one-size-fits-all skill.  Understanding and uncovering how these individuals kept getting promoted and what key skills they possessed drove much of this work.  As one of Mr. Bryant’s interview subjects points out, “Though chief executives are paid to have answers, their greatest contributions to their organizations may be asking the right questions.”  That’s good advice for all leaders new and old alike.

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