The science behind great leadership


A McKinsey study found that more than 90% of CEOs planned to increase investment in leadership development because they saw it as the most important human-capital issue their organizations faced.  And for good reason – strong leadership in an organization not only drives results but is critical to a company’s success and overall health.  

But what exactly is leadership?  The word evokes visions of great generals, politicians, activists and coaches throughout history delivering inspiring words, like Martin Luther King and his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech or William Wallace belting out “Freedom!” in Braveheart.  But is leadership about charisma and great movie-worthy speeches? And has it changed over time with different generations?

Bill Gates said, “As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.”  This holds very true for millennial workers, who will form 50% of the global workforce by 2020 and have different ideas about the workplace.  Millennials seek guidance, support and coaching as well as development opportunities and performance-based rewards.

So what leadership traits stand the test of time and inspire current and future workers?

  • Great Communicators (and Listeners) –Leaders are clear, sincere and consistent in their communication and spend most of their time listening to those they lead.
  • Integrity – They hold themselves to high standards and display character that is consistent with their values and inspire employees to do the same.
  • Visionary – Great leaders live in the present but always have one foot in the future and motivate those that work with them by helping them to understand where they’re headed and why.
  • Empathetic–They are truly connected to those they lead and understand their needs and wants.
  • Authentic – Leaders never try to be something they’re not and are true to their genuine selves.
  • Positive –They remain positive even in the face of a challenge and are highly engaged and passionate, always seeking a solution versus dwelling on a problem.
  • Courageous – Great leaders are not afraid to assert unpopular ideas if they will fix a problem or produce a better result. They also support their teams and always have their backs.
  • Confident – They are appropriately confident and secure but display humility. Strong leaders welcome other thoughts and do not feel threatened if someone challenges their ideas.
  • Competent – Leaders are masters of their area and others seek their wisdom and advice. They never ask those that work for them to do something they can’t or won’t do themselves.
  • Empowered – Great leaders strike the perfect balance between setting their people up for success and getting out of the way, yet being there for support and guidance.

Do those at the top of your organization display these leadership traits?  At KMR Executive Search, we specialize in finding top talent to build your ideal team.