There’s no denying the impact that a successful leader can have on organisational performance. Consider for a moment leaders past and present – Jeff Bezos, Amazon; Steve Jobs, Apple; Simon Moutter, Spark; Rob Fyfe, Air New Zealand; Marissa Mayer, Yahoo – to name just a few.

So, what makes an effective leader and what indicators lead to high performance?

Harvard Business Review partnered with economists at the University of Chicago and Copenhagen Business School on a ground breaking 10-year study to identify the specific attributes that differentiate high-performing CEOs. They identified four specific behavioural traits that proved critical to CEO performance.

1. Deciding with speed and conviction
This doesn’t necessarily mean making great decisions all of the time but rather being more decisive – making decisions earlier, faster and with greater conviction.

2. Engaging for impact
Being able to balance stakeholder priorities with an unrelenting focus on delivering business results.

3. Adapting proactively
Being able to adapt and dealing with unexpected situations in the short, medium and long term.

4. Delivering reliably
The ability to reliably produce results and setting realistic expectations up front.

Some really fascinating insights that are based on an in-depth analysis of 17,000 assessments of C-suite executives, including 2,000 CEOs. But what about more broader personality traits and foundational belief systems that are common in successful leaders? Here are some Decipher Group have added to the mix, based on our 10 years in executive, management and governance recruitment.

5. Uses their power for good
Leaders with high ethical and moral standards have a core purpose centred around being humble and genuinely supporting others to reach their full potential.

6. Holds everyone accountable including themselves
Nothing good happens without collective effort. Engaging a wider team and distributing accountability throughout the entire organisation emphasises the importance of this.

7. Is authentic
Successful leaders do not emulate the behaviours of others – they create results through authenticity, a personal style and ability to showcase their unique talents. They still learn from others and believe in continuous learning, but they remain true to themselves.

There is no perfect mix of all seven traits and in some circumstances or organisations, a very specific skill or behaviour may be more crucial than others. For example, a leader of a start up probably needs to be focussing on adapting proactively. Whereas in more established businesses, that behaviour may matter less.

The key takeout is to focus on these traits, or similar competencies, during the recruitment process and therefore improve the likelihood of choosing the right leader (with the right mix of skills) for your organisation.

Need help?

If you are looking for direction and assistance on unearthing the best talent for your business, get in touch with us. We’d love to chat.

The Decipher Team

To stay on top of current recruitment trends and technologies follow Decipher Group on LinkedIn.

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