Decoding leadership

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This article identifies four key behaviors that are connected with high-quality leadership. We hope you’ll learn from this short article from McKinsey & Company (McKinsey) “Decoding leadership: What really matters” and apply these practices to your organization. As part of the DeBoer Fellowship’s mission, Trustworthy is a public channel to share reliable leadership tips.

Written in 2015, McKinsey highlights the emphasis and attention that CEOs place on leadership development. The article concludes that “good leadership is a critical part of organizational health, which is an important driver of shareholder returns.”

McKinsey is a global leader in change management consulting across many industries. As part of their research in 2014, they defined a “comprehensive list of 20 distinct leadership traits.” They sampled 189,000 people surveyed across 81 organizations in diverse geographic regions, industries, and employee sizes. Their goal: “to assess how frequently certain kinds of leadership behavior are applied within their organizations.”

After dividing these organizations into those “whose leadership performance was strong…and those that were weak,” they found that organizations with “high-quality leadership teams typically displayed 4 of the 20 possible types of behavior.” McKinsey’s data suggests that there are four kinds of behaviors that “account for 89% of leadership effectiveness:”

  1. “Solving problems effectively” – Problem solving is a key skill for high-quality leaders to use, in major issues as well as daily ones. This involves gathering, analyzing, and considering information.
  2. “Operating with a strong results orientation” – Beyond simply “developing and communicating a vision and setting objectives,” high-quality leaders must take responsibility for following through with achieving those results. Leaders who operate from a “results orientation” often focus on quality, efficiency, and productivity.
  3. “Seeking different perspectives” – High-quality leaders should identify broad “trends affecting organizations, grasp changes in the environment, [and] encourage employees to contribute ideas that could improve performance.” They are open-minded and flexible as they determine which issues are most important to pursue.
  4. “Supporting others” – High-quality leaders demonstrate empathy and the ability to “understand and sense how other people feel.” They are authentic, showing interest in their colleagues and employees. These leaders “build trust and inspire and help colleagues to overcome challenges.” They protect employees from unnecessary fears about “external threats” and intervene within “internal conflict” in order “to promote organizational efficiency.”

While various situations “often require different styles of leadership,” there are four core leadership behaviors that are consistently demonstrated by high-quality leaders. McKinsey recommends “for organizations investing in the development of their future leaders, prioritizing these four areas is a good place to start.”

To read the full article, click here.

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