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Your Executive Leadership Footprint

by Kim on July 21, 2015

What type of leader are you? Are you someone who consistently leaves a positive lasting impression or does your presence instill fear? Do you end your busy day on a positive note or stay awake seething about a mistake made by an employee? Do you have good relationships with your counterparts or do you remain aloof and uncaring? Do you even CARE about what others think?

I work with top executive leaders every day as we collaborate on their executive resumes, and am fortunate that the majority of my clients are not only highly accomplished, but also very nice human beings.  Because of these associations, I have learned quite a bit about what it takes to be a true leader, and the common traits below have helped these trailblazers successfully maneuver through constant change, challenges, critical projects or emergencies.

Honesty and Integrity. Trust, ethics and high standards are core components of many successful leaders. When your team can trust you, it makes for a more productive, open environment where employees are not afraid to develop new ideas or fear making a mistake. It can instill confidence in your customers and can solidify your brand, especially after a corporate crisis.  Honesty still is always the best policy.

Delegation Authority. Strong leaders realize that they can’t do it all, and that hiring the right people can make a huge difference in overall operational results and future vision. Delegating is key, and identifying the best people to head various departments is critical to maintaining productivity and garnering accountability for those in charge, leaving more free time for leaders to focus on higher-level tasks.

Interpersonal Skills and Communication. While these skills seem like a no brainer, it’s not always easy for some to clearly communicate their vision and what they need to be accomplished. If you have trouble zeroing in on issues or seeing those around you stare, with quizzical faces as you explain a key project, you may want to brush up on your communication skills. You need the confidence and proficiency required to convey what you need done, and why; if you can’t translate your ideas to others, progress may be slow or never even get off the ground.

Confidence and Decision Making. As a leader, everything rests on you no matter how good your team is.  There will be times when something falls apart – you have a major product recalled, a public scandal that doesn’t want to go away, a major ethics violation or whatever the case may be. Your employees and the public need to know that you’re going to take charge, take action and resolve the problem. By remaining confident and transparent, you help alleviate fear in your employees and customers, while cementing the fact that you are able to calmly manage through adversity.

Commitment and Assurances. In order to get the best work from your management team and employees, you have to pave the way through example, working hard yourself to show your dedication for your key initiatives.  It’s a known fact that most subordinates take the lead from their superiors; if you demonstrate enthusiasm for a particular project and praise your team for their hard work, you will generally see greater commitment from your employees. When you gain the allegiance of your team/employees, you are building a reputation for keeping your word. Employees love that.

While these are just a few skills commonly shared among true leaders, it’s always a good idea to perform your own self-assessment once in a while, or ask a trusted colleague how you are doing. Understanding how your leadership qualities are perceived is one more marker of a strong leader.

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