IN ORDER to succeed, there are three qualities that leaders must draw on over the year ahead – ambition, courage and responsiveness. There is an overriding condition that determines whether each of these qualities creates healthy or toxic behaviours – humility. Leaders with a serve-others-first ethos foster strong team cohesion and immense trust and exude calm under pressure. Conversely, a self-centred ‘hero CEO’ mindset is obsessed with personal ambition, acts with reckless bravado and responds with knee-jerk drama.
How will you apply these qualities in your organisation?
Ambition is synonymous with passion. It is the idea that you have a cause for which you will put in sweat and tears. Leaders must possess ambition for their organisations, otherwise there is no reason why anyone should follow.
Ambition is an emotional connection with the raison d’etre of your business, how the company makes a difference to people’s lives. Ambition then imagines how the company can make an even better impact in the future, which in turn propels research, planning and action.
The year ahead will require continued tenacity, a desire to initiate activity every day and a refusal to give up at the first hurdle – all hallmarks of passion.
Leaders without ambition for their organisation will fail to foster morale, engagement or any kind of discretionary effort in their people and have no place in the boardroom. Similarly, leaders who are ambitious only for themselves will ruin the company.
This is no time for the faint-hearted to be in leading roles. Has there ever been a good time?
Dithering, evading and endless deferring simply will not do. It is moral courage that is needed.
The ability to decide with high conviction and implement with compassion.
Without compassion, a courageous decision can be destructive. On the other hand, all compassion with no courage can enable other people’s poor behaviour.
There is always a cost to courage. If an opportunity does not serve the purpose of the company, the courageous choice is to let it pass. There is a risk of losing a friendship by confronting someone with the truth. There is a potential loss of promotion when owning up to a mistake. Yet, time and again, it is in being true to our values that we find the courage of our convictions.
Effective leaders constantly consider the opportunity, assess the risks, make a decision and implement with compassion.
Uncertainty is one of the few things that we can be certain about. We make plans, then things happen, just as container ships get wedged into canals, gas prices leap, staff supply evaporates and freak weather destroys crops. The pandemic has fundamentally changed the world with an impact that we have yet to fully experience or understand. Adding in Brexit, geopolitical tension, demographic demands, rapid climate change and any number of major global issues, the stage is now set for ongoing significant flux.
Leaders must be alert to changes and relish the need to respond in order to achieve the mission. Reluctance or denial will result in lost opportunities and pain.
Successful leaders are wedded to the mission, not to the details in the plan.
Skilful responsiveness is calmness, not flapping, and holding the strategic objective keenly in focus while adjusting to new information. In our work, we recognise this as a blend of commitment, awareness and resolution, traits that we assess for via psychometric surveys.
Elevating these three qualities will put you in a strong position for the year ahead. Every success.