Leadership Development

What is a successful leader?

DrJohnK September 11, 2014 15

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What is a successful leader?

Because our GAPPS5 report profile benchmarks against “Successful” leaders I get asked this a lot.

And it is a great question! Because success means different things to different people. For some, success is a mansion on the beachfront, for some it's being in charge of a large multi-national, for others, it's a loving family.

However, these simply identify the measures by which individuals evaluate their own success.

[callout]We define leadership success as: “Behaving in a congruent and righteous way that generates a sustainable superior return on investment.“[/callout]

Now of course, this is a very loaded statement:
Behaving: your manifest actions and words.
Congruent: in accordance with stated and unstated beliefs and values
Righteous: acting in an upright, moral and virtuous way (within the context of the environment)
Sustainable: able to maintained or kept going
Superior return on investment: continuously returning greater benefit to the organization and/or people than the investment in time, money, effort. i.e. a greater ROI than most other leaders.

How do you know that a leader is successful?

During the last 20+ years we have been researching leadership, we have assessed, observed and evaluated individual leaders seeking agreement on whether an particular leader is successful. This evaluation considers the individual's own achievements of their own definition of success, the agreed definitions of success of their peers and our own experience.

Surely it's simply that ‘more is better'?

Not so! And this is one of the biggest issues with other psychometric tools and why we created GAPPS. More is not always better. Too much food makes you fat!

For example, someone with extremely high interpersonal sensitivity is going to be very sensitive to the needs and wants of others and may choose to implement a policy that satisfies the people at the expense of good business – reduces ROI.

Or, someone with absolute clarity of goals and vision, but does not learn (review) that the goal is the wrong way.

Or someone with very high Outcome… they are heading for a stroke.

Also, consider that if you had a team member who was a junior manager with incredibly strong leadership skills and thus gets labelled as a ‘High Potential” put on the fast track and promoted… and promoted… if they do not gain the experience technically or the wisdom to discern, then they won't necessarily be successful as a CEO or even as a senior manager.

“Can I be successful as a leader with a low score?”

Yes! Though it depends on your definition of success. I've met a few CEOs who, quite honestly, shouldn't be in charge of getting themselves dressed in the morning, let alone a multi-million dollar business and the lives of hundreds of staff.

They key to real success as a leader when you have known weaknesses (and we all have them!) is to let go of the ego or pride, admit it and go find yourself someone to fill your gaps.

Let's say you own a business that is doing well, but to get to the next level and expand or go public. As an SMB leader you've succeeded, but you really need a ‘Chess Player' character and you're a Cavalier… then go find yourself a boss!

And remember, whilst a “Compliant” leader is indicative of a low score (it's still global average remember) and every team, every business NEEDS Complaint leaders too… otherwise who's going to get the detailed work done? And heck, if you like it… stay there!

What do you need to change to be more successful?

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I impact the world one person at a time. I am a maker and breaker of moulds. I love to coach and teach others, I know that there is no such thing as a "standard" set of instructions or curriculum for everyone. I see people as a series of exceptions, and my genius is figuring out ways for you to leverage and capitalise on these exceptions, to break the mould as I guide you. I am pulled by each person's unique style of learning, and if this means tossing out the textbook and finding a different way to help someone learn and hacking the art and neuroscience of expert leadership, then so be it. I thrive to #Unstuck your Potential to #UnLock your Performance and #UnLeash your Power one person at a time, and where the need for change is urgent and unbounded.

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