What’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.
As 2010 comes to a close all means of the “Best of” lists are certain to arise in your favorite circles. Whether it’s best ice cream flavors, green idea, news stories, remixes, political figures, hospitals, celebrities, musicians, Internet trends, automobiles or my personal favorite books, the lists will surely arrive. To get you in the mood our friends at Booz & Company’s Strategy + Business magazine have delivered their 2010 Best Business Books list (slightly ahead of the holidays—just sayin’) Here’s are the nominees:
Slapped By The Invisible Hand: The Panic of 2007 – Gary B. Gordon
Chasing Stars: The Myth of Talent and the Portability of Performance – Boris Groysberg
Reflections on Leadership and Career Development – Manfred F.R. Ket de Vries
Denial: Why Business Leaders Fail to Look Facts in the Face – Richard S. Tedlow
Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation – Steven Johnson
The Power of Positive Deviance – Richard T. Pascale et. al.
Country Driving – Peter Hessler
Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition – Daniel Okrent
A wide ranging group of other authors get a nod including Charlene Li’s Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform The Way You Lead; Clay Shirky’s Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age; Hagel, Brown and Davison’s The Power of Pull; Jody Heymann’s Profit at the Bottom of the Ladder; Dan Pink’s wonderful Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us; The Heath Brother’s Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard; and from one of my favorite management thinkers Warren Bennis, Still Surprised: A Memoir of a Life in Leadership.
Undoubtedly, you have your own favorites or “best” choice for 2010 don’t you? Share your favorites by adding a comment or two. I’ll come back to update the listing a little bit later. Stay tuned. Here’s wishing you another rich bounty of great reading in 2011.
In every defeat and in every failure are the seeds of greatness. It is less about what happens to you as a leader than what you do with what happens that matters. Great leaders are resilient and know how to adjust quickly in the face of adversity.
When faced with hardship it is not uncommon to find yourself in denial or disbelief. You may find yourself wondering less about how to get out the situation and more about how you got into it in the first place just like US Airways pilot Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger. Celebrated for his coolness in ditching an Airbus 320 in the Hudson River following a bird strike, Sullenberger has shared a critical observation, “…everything I had done in my career,” he said, “had in some way been a preparation for that moment.”
Preparing for both success and failure fuels your ability as a leader to bounce back quickly and to bring order to difficult circumstances. Understanding failure creates the essential framework for successful change and innovation. But if not managed correctly, it can create doubt, damage self-esteem and cripple your leadership skills.
The Road to Resilience a white paper produced by the American Psychological Association identifies six essential steps to maintaining your resilience as a person and as a leader. They include: taking decisive actions; looking for opportunities for self-discovery; nurturing a positive view of yourself; keeping things in perspective; maintaining a hopeful outlook and taking care of yourself.
Remember you chose leadership for a reason. As “Sully” Sullenberger reminds us, “…people are best served when they find their passion early on, because we tend to be good at things we’re passionate about.” Get back in the game. Now!