“Leadership Is About Emotion”: Ability to Reach people that Transcends the Intellectual & Rational |by: Meghan M. Biro | Forbes

Make a list of the 5 leaders you most admire. They can be from business, social media, politics, technology, the sciences, any field. Now ask yourself why you admire them. The chances are high that your admiration is based on more than their accomplishments, impressive as those may be. I’ll bet that everyone on your list reaches you on an Emotional Level..

This ability to reach people in a way that transcends the intellectual and rational is the mark of a great leader. They all have it. They inspire us. It’s a simple as that… And when we’re inspired we tap into our best selves and deliver amazing work.

So, can this ability to touch and inspire people be learned ? No and yes. The truth is that not everyone can lead, and there is no substitute for natural talent. Honestly, I’m more convinced of this now – I’m in reality about the world of work and employee engagement. But for those who fall somewhat short of being a natural born star (which is pretty much MANY of us), leadership skills can be acquired, honed and perfected.

Let’s Take A Look At Tools That Allow For Talent To Shine :

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Emotional intelligence – Great leaders understand empathy, and have the ability to read people’s (sometimes unconscious, often unstated) needs and desires. This allows them to speak to these needs and, when at all possible, to fulfill them. When people feel they are understood and empathized something, they respond PERIOD and a bond is formed.

Continuous learning – Show me a know-it-all and I’ll show you someone who doesn’t have a clue about being human. Curiosity and an insatiable desire to always do better is the mark of a great leader. They are rarely satisfied with the status quo, and welcome new knowledge and fresh (even if challenging) input. It’s all about investing in yourself.

Contextualize – Great leaders respond to each challenge with a fresh eye. They know that what worked in one situation may be useless in another. Before you act, make sure you understand the specifics of the situation and tailor your actions accordingly.

Let Go – Too many people think leadership is about control. In fact, Great Leaders inspire and then get out of the way. They know that talented people don’t need or want hovering managers. Leadership is about influence, guidance, and support, not control. Look for ways to do your job and then get out of the way so that people can do theirs.

Honesty – Not a week goes by that we don’t hear about a so-called leader losing credibility because he or she was dishonest. Often this is because of pressure to try and “measure up” and it’s not coming from a place of being real – often this relates to fear of not being accepted for your true self. We live in age of extraordinary transparency, which is reason enough to always be true to your core – your mission will be revealed, your motivations will show by your behaviors. But it goes way beyond this. It’s an issue that sets an example and elevates an organization. If you have a reputation for honesty, it will be a lot easier to deliver bad news and face tough challenges. Are you inspiring people from your heart ? ?

Kindness and respect – Nice leaders (people) don’t finish last. They finish first again and again. Ignorance and arrogance are leadership killers. They’re also a mark of insecurity. Treating everyone with a basic level respect is an absolute must trait of leadership. And kindness is the gift that keeps on giving back. Of course, there will be people who prove they don’t deserve respect and they must be dealt with. But that job will be made much easier, and will have far less impact on your organization, if you have a reputation for kindness, honesty and respect.

Collaboration – People’s jobs and careers are integral to their lives. The more your organization can make them a partner, the more they will deliver amazing results. This means, to the greatest extent possible, communicating your organization’s strategies, goals and challenges. This builds buy-in, and again is a mark of respect. People won’t be blindsided (which is a workplace culture killer) by setbacks if they’re in the loop.

Partner with your people – As I said above, people’s careers are a big part of their lives. That seems like a no-brainer, but leaders should have it front and center at all times. Find out what your employees’ career goals are and then do everything you can to help them reach them. Even if it means they will eventually leave your organization. You will gain happy, productive employees who will work with passion and commitment, and tout your company far and wide. This an opportunity to brand your greatness.

“Leadership is both an Art and a Science..” These tools are guidelines, not rigid rules. Everyone has to develop his or her own individual leadership style. Make these tools a part of your arsenal and use them well as you strive to reach people on an emotional level. Be Human. This Matters..

The “SEVEN Skills” You Need to “Thrive in the C-Suite”| by: Boris Groysberg | HBR

What executive skills are most prized by companies today?  How has that array of skills changed in the last decade, and how is it likely to change in the next ten years?

To find out, I surveyed senior consultants in 2010 at a top-five global executive-search firm. Experienced search consultants typically interview hundreds (in many cases thousands) of senior executives; they assess those executives’ skills, track them over time, and in some cases place the same executive in a series of jobs. They also observe how executives negotiate, what matters most to them in their contracts, and how they decide whether to change companies.

Here are the SEVEN “C-level” skills & traits companies prize most :

  1. Leadership – The skills cited as most indispensable for C-level executives—not just CEOs—are those that jointly constitute leadership. One consultant described the search for a chief information officer in these terms: “Whereas technical expertise was previously paramount, these competencies [being sought today] are more about leadership skills than technical ones.” The consultants differed on the type of leadership most highly in demand, mentioning “inspirational leadership,” “leadership in a non-authoritarian manner that works with today’s executive talent,” “take-charge” leadership, “leadership balanced with authenticity, respect for others, and trust building,” and “strategic leadership.” Ethical leadership was also mentioned. Some consultants observed that the type of leadership sought depends on a company’s specific needs. “Visionary leadership is frequently mentioned when a company is on a new path, adopting a new strategy, or at a tipping point in its growth,” one respondent noted. Another said, “Driving an organization or function to a higher level of performance, efficiency, or growth requires a ‘take-charge’ leadership.” One consultant predicted that firms in 2020 will seek the “same [attributes as in 2010] but with an even greater appreciation for the intangibles of leadership and [for experience] having led a business through tough times.”

  1. Strategic thinking and Execution – “Strategic foresight”— the ability to think strategically, often on a global basis—was also frequently cited. One consultant stressed the ability to “set the strategic direction” for the organization; another equated strategic thinking with “integrative leadership.”  Others emphasized that strategic thinking also calls for the ability to execute a vision, which one respondent called “operating savvy” and another defined as “a high standard in execution.” One consultant pointed out that strategic thinking is a relatively new requirement for many functional C-level executives, and another noted that the surge in attention to strategic thinking occurred in the decade 2000–2010.
  1. Technical and technology skills – The third most frequently cited requirement for C-level executives was technical skills—specifically, deep familiarity with the particular body of knowledge under their auspices, such as law, financials, or technology. Many respondents stressed technology skills and technical literacy. “A C-level executive needs to understand how technology is impacting their organization and how to exploit technology,” one respondent asserted. Others stressed financial acumen and “industry-specific content knowledge.” In contrast to popular wisdom, many technical skills are not declining but increasing in importance.
  1. Team- and relationship-building – Many consultants emphasized team-related skills: building and leading teams and working collegially. “A world-class leader must be able to hire and develop an exceptionally strong leadership team—he/she cannot succeed as a brilliant one-person player,” one asserted. Another said that today’s executive must be “more interested and skilled in developing his/her team, less self-oriented.” Executives no longer sit behind closed doors,” one consultant said; instead they must be “team-oriented, capable of multitasking continuously, leading without rank, resisting stress, ensuring that subordinates do not suffer burnout—and do all of this with a big smile in an open-plan office.” One consultant characterized the entire company as a team and described the executive’s job as “leading and developing the company’s team, from the leadership down to the ‘troops.’”
  1. Communication and presentation – Collectively, the consultants said the ideal C-suite candidate possesses the power of persuasion and excellent presentation skills—which one consultant called “the intellectual capability to interact with a wide variety of stakeholders.” This is a tall order because there are many more stakeholders now than before. Speaking convincingly to the concerns of varied audiences— knowledgeable and unsophisticated, internal and external, friendly and skeptical—calls for mental deftness and stylistic versatility. Some consultants emphasized that a strong candidate should be “board-ready”; others emphasized the ability to “influence the direction of a business and the front office” and to achieve “organizational buy-in.” And C-level executives must also be adept at communicating externally. “Presentation skills have become key to success,” one consultant said, “and will continue to be of increasing importance in the future, as the media, governments, employees, shareholders and regulators take an ever-increasing interest in what occurs in big business.” Another warned that executives need to be “good at making presentations in front of a ‘tough audience.’” Finally, C-level executives must be adept in receiving and synthesizing information.
  1. Change-management – Virtually unacknowledged and under-appreciated until quite recently, change-management skills are in growing demand. Consultants noted rising demand for an executive who is a “change driver,” able to “lead a transformation/change agenda” and capable of “driving transformational change.”One thoughtful consultant said that, as a job specification, change management typically has less to do with driving drastic firm-wide change than with being at ease with constant flux. “This requires a ‘change-agent’ executive,” he noted, “motivated by a continuous-improvement mindset, a sense of always upgrading organizations, building better processes and systems, improving commercial relationships, increasing market share, and developing leadership.” Another consultant noted that a firm seeking an executive who can engineer change often opts for an external candidate on the grounds that an external hire can bring “a new skill set that can lead to significant change and growth.”
  1. Integrity – Although not skills per se, “Integrity & a reputation for ethical conduct” are highly valued, according to the consultants we surveyed. One said that hiring companies want “unquestioned ethics.” Another remarked that ethical conduct was not explicitly sought in the past but would be front and center going forward: “Personal integrity and ethical behavior . . . are far more important now because of the speed of communication.” Another said that “organizations are more attuned to the ‘acceptability’ of senior hires, be it to regulators, investors or governments.”

We also asked the executive-search consultants how the most highly prized C-level skills have changed over time and what further change they foresee. The first clear theme that emerged is the importance of a global outlook and meaningful international experience. Already the foremost emerging skill over the past decade, a global orientation is apt to become even more dominant going forward.

Another striking theme was the demise of the star culture. Being a team player—working well with others—matters more and is expected to grow in importance. Team skills and change-management skills tied for second place among those considered crucial today but largely ignored ten years ago.  One consultant shared a telling anecdote: “Recently I was called to find the new CEO of a local branch of an international company. The former CEO was fired because his management team decided he was too bossy and did not allow them opportunities for growth. They brought these concerns to the top level of the company, and the decision was to replace him.”

Many consultants said that technical skills—once the prime goal of executive searches—are still important but have become merely a baseline requirement.  Because the repertoire of obligatory executive skills has grown in scope, some said, both hard and soft requirements have expanded accordingly. Executives who neglect their technical skills might be passed over. In fast changing global economy, dated technical skills can hamper resource-allocation and strategic decisions.

What skills do you think executives need to be successful now and what skills will they need in 2020? What are you doing to be ready to be hired in ten years? We would love to hear; please share your ideas with us..