About this series: Our CEO and President shares his experiences and insights as a thought leader for 39+ years in the technology industry.
Over my thirty nine years in the technology business, I have had the privilege to work with some of the finest leaders in the world. Great leaders are distinguished by their consistently outstanding results regardless of changes in the economy or changes in their industry. While each of them imparts their own special signature on their approach, I feel that all of them incorporate the below aspects of leadership into their unique styles.
Based on my experience, I have tried to distill these components into four key areas:
- Present Reality
- Drive change, creativity and innovation
- Overcome resistance
- Motivate and encourage
Leaders who effectively execute each of these pillars, are able to recruit and retain great people, maintain an atmosphere of success, and achieve consistently positive results.
1. PRESENT REALITY
The numbers don’t lie. Every business leader is ultimately measured against the financial results. If the results are consistently good it means that the leader is on the right track. If the results are either inconsistent or consistently bad, then it is likely that the numbers are telling you that you need to change something.
Good or bad, great leaders carefully evaluate the numbers and use them as a guidepost to making the appropriate adjustments and improvements. The biggest mistake a leader can make is to either ignore or overact to the results.
Great leaders speak candidly to their team about how they are performing and collaborate on what to do next.
2. DRIVE CHANGE, CREATIVITY, AND INNOVATION:
Business requires change and adjustment, even in the best of times.
Only the paranoid survive. - Andy Grove, Intel
The first thing a good leader recognizes is that you never "arrive". Meaning we should be just as "paranoid" in the good times as the bad, since success is fleeting. Under performance on the other hand requires a realistic assessment of the issues, and a detailed plan for change. What is the definition of insanity?
Insanity is ignoring the facts and refusing to change.
3. OVERCOME RESISTANCE:
All of us struggle with change in some sense or another. Change requires adjustment and a certain amount of discomfort. It also requires effort, initiative and commitment. Reluctance to change comes in the form of both passive and active resistance. In many ways active resistance is easier to manage since the issue is out on the table and can be addressed directly. Passive resistance is more difficult since one or both parties ignore the issues rather than address them. Forcing and imposing change is just as misguided as ignoring the need for change. Great leaders know how to methodically implement change while getting the team to “buy in” to the process.
In the end, business is about changing or having it forced on you.
Presenting reality and driving change are what I call the science of leadership. Overcoming resistance and motivating people are the art of leadership. The art of leadership requires a certain sensitivity to the needs of the team without compromising the goals and initiatives of the organization. Each person is motivated differently and therefore each person requires a different approach. Great leaders understand this and know how to connect on an individual basis with each person and motivate them to reach their potential while driving the goals of the organization.
You can say that the science of leadership is the “what to do” and the art of leadership is the “how to do it”.
The best leaders are good at both the science and the art of leadership. They are realists who thoughtfully review their results and are driven to constantly explore ways to grow the business and improve the bottom line. They are compulsively curious about how to develop their people and their business through change and innovation. They are open minded and always interested in new ideas and approaches and share the spotlight with the team. They are relentlessly positive and drive that positive spirit through the team so that each member of the team feels a sense of ownership and empowerment.
In my next post I'll share in detail my thoughts on the first pillar, Presenting Reality.
Another suggested post:
Xerox's CEO Ursula Burns on Leadership and Transformation