Wendywoman on leadership attributes…

Reporter Query:

A reporter is looking for management and leadership experts who can discuss the attributes of leadership and whether being too nice can doom a leader or the chances of someone becoming a leader. What are attributes and traits people look for in leadership training and mentoring programs? How does an organization know they have identified a potential leader?

Since moving into a Senior Vice President role more than a decade ago, the best feedback I ever received from a CEO I worked for was when he told me, “Wendy, you can take people who work for you to the woodshed and beat them and when they are done, they say ‘Thank You, Wendy!’  That’s a credit to your ability to deliver tough information in a way that is not only loving, but useful.”

Too many people think being nice in a leadership role either (a) diminishes the power of the leader; or (b) allows for no accountability with the employee.

Neither is true.  Today’s most successful leaders have 2 things going for them: humanity (why do they care, empathy, etc.) and expertise (this is not title but actual skill set).  Having one or the other may result in a good leader, but who wants a good leader?  Good is the enemy of great!   We are in living in the most chaotic work environment ever seen.  Companies that want to survive will embrace revolutionary change as part of their daily experience.   Absent the humanity and expertise, it is unlikely the leader will be successful in guiding the team through change transformation because they the team will have no reason to listen to the leader to begin with.

In terms of identifying a potential leader, it is Important to differentiate between high performing and high potential employees

• High-performers give immediate return on investment, with estimates averaging from more than 50% additional value, to as much as a 100% increase in productivity over average performers.

• High-potentials are typically defined as those demonstrating high-level contributions, organizational values, potential to move up to an identified position within a given timeframe, and potential to assume greater responsibility.

NOTE:  Most high-performers are not high-potentials BUT all high-potentials are high-performers