Top 10 Effective Leadership Skills Needed For CEOs

While the top skills for effective leadership remain the same as last year’s, “adaptability to change” ranked higher, underscoring the importance of being able to navigate today’s ever-changing business environment.
While the top skills for effective leadership remain the same as last year’s, “adaptability to change” ranked higher, underscoring the importance of being able to navigate today’s ever-changing business environment.

2014 Best Companies For Leaders

While the top skills for effective leadership remain the same as last year’s, “adaptability to change” ranked higher, underscoring the importance of being able to navigate today’s ever-changing business environment.

Skill*

2014

2013

1 Adaptability to change 60% 54%
2 Strategic thinking 55 57
3 Integrity 48 51
4 Very good communicator 40 50
5 Being trustworthy and open 38 43
6 Vision 35 32
7 Develops and fosters diverse teams 33 20
8 Delegation 28 41
9 A positive mind-set 26 31
10 High self-awareness 26 20

The most effective leadership skills of a good leader depend on you you ask.

Adaptability to change is an important skill for Andrew Chastain, president & CEO of Witt/Kieffer. According to Chastain, CEOs must expect the disruptions. “From a talent standpoint, surround yourselves with executives and staff who handle chaos and roll with it. Make flexibility and adaptability essential competencies to recruit for,” he said to Chief Executive.

Another CEO who says adaptability is important is John Merakovsky, CEO of IR, a global provider of experience management solutions for unified communications. He said to Chief Executive, “There are several core traits that I require in my leaders; intelligence and a willingness to learn and adapt.”

He also cited the importance of honesty and integrity and the “willingness to engage in good faith conversations in situations of conflict” as well as self-awareness and the emotional maturity to listen and accept feedback and grow.

Trustworthiness is an effective leadership skill for many CEOs. Business consultant and author John Kador says: “When well-led by a trusted leader, organizations and work groups just perform better. Teams simply cannot function without trusted leadership.” When Steve Greenbaum, new CEO of in-home care provider ComForCare, is looking for leadership traits in people as they move up the ranks, values is one that stands out.

“I look at an individual and I ask myself, “will they be open and honest, and inclusive, and transparent, and trustworthy?” he says.

In terms of the ability to foster diverse teams, Ross Kelly writes: “Just because we may think we employ individuals from a rich mix of backgrounds, doesn’t necessarily mean that we do.” He says that it doesn’t come from a place of maliciousness, but the brain “making shortcuts to avoid having to conduct tedious and time-consuming analysis.”

Ability to delegate is an important trait of a good leader, but many CEOs don’t give it enough attention. According to author Marilyn Ferguson, the other side of every fear is freedom. “The fact of the matter is, companies with CEOs who are afraid of delegating responsibility and holding those parties accountable to their work will never reach higher levels of success,” she said to Chief Executive.

Self awareness came in last on this last, but Tasha Eurich, a organizational psychologist and executive coach, wrote to Harvard Business Review that research backs up the premise that self-aware CEOs are more effective leaders, communicate more effectively, make sounder decisions, and are less likely to lie, cheat, and steal.

Eurich noted that while most people think they are self-aware, it’s a rare quality. She says though that leaders who “focus on building both internal and external self-awareness” along with the ability to seek honest feedback, will reap the rewards of this leadership trait.

2014 Best Companies For Leaders Links

Top 10 Skills Needed for Effective Leadership
Biggest Hurdles to Developing Leaders
Deloitte: Building a Future on Millennial Recruits
10 Best Private Companies
List of 40 Best Companies for Leaders

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