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What Really Matters for Leaders?


After reading the article from McKinsey & Company, “Decoding leadership: What really matters”, I felt compelled to share it with those of you who haven’t seen it.

The article points to 20 key traits of leaders who are most successful. While not all are an exact fit by wording, they all come back to the critical people and managing skills that we test for in the employee engagement industry.

20 Key Leadership Traits

  1. Be supportive
  2. Champion desired change
  3. Clarify objectives, rewards, and consequences
  4. Communicate prolifically and enthusiastically
  5. Develop others
  6. Develop and share a collective mission
  7. Differentiate among followers
  8. Facilitate group collaboration
  9. Foster mutual respect
  10. LeadershipGive praise
  11. Keep group organized and on task
  12. Make quality decisions
  13. Motivate and bring out the best in others
  14. Offer a critical perspective
  15. Operate with strong results orientation
  16. Recover positively from failures
  17. Remain composed and confident in uncertainty
  18. Role model organizational values
  19. Seek different perspectives
  20. Solve problems effectively

4 Traits Account for 89% of Leadership Effectiveness

  1. Be supportive
  2. Operate with strong results orientation
  3. Seek different perspectives
  4. Solve problems effectively

Click to see the full article, Decoding leadership.

Hard Leadership Skills vs Soft Leadership Skills

So many companies I see are very good at the “hard” management skills like making decisions, setting priorities, managing the numbers that define their industry, and developing business models.

However, they stop there!

They fail to see that getting others to want to join the challenge and give you their extra effort involves the soft skills of communicating, rewarding, recognizing, and building trust. You will notice that being supportive is one of the 4 most important traits. This is a soft skill that too many leaders overlook or devalue.

It is not enough to know the right things to do, you must do them right. The old adage “people don’t care how much you know until they know you care” has never been more relevant

Seeking different perspectives is also in the 4 key traits. That means getting input from all of your employees, from the front line to the executives … and actually listening to them. An employee engagement survey is your best way to get these perspectives without self-censorship from employees or fear of reprisal.

Doing an engagement survey gives you the first solid data to base the extent of the company-wide leadership skills needed, and the individual development needs of your leaders at all levels.

>> Workplace Engagement Insights can customize the right employee engagement survey for your organization. Set up a free 30 minute consultation today.

Get your FREE cheatsheat: Improving Employee Engagement in Just 10 Minutes.

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Written by Dwight Lacey

Dwight Lacey

Dwight is the President at Workplace Engagement Insights. He leads Workplace Engagement Insights with a clear understanding of the latest employee engagement research, survey best practices, and leadership styles that create successful businesses.

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