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12 Competencies of High Performance Executives

What Makes A Good Leader?

High performance executives focus on hiring the right leadership team, developing competitive advantage, enforcing values and driving strategy and results. They create cultures that value performance, reward excellence and demand accountability at all levels.  As a result, the organizational culture is a reflection of the executive’s business acumen, executive competency and values.  Our experience with over 1,500 executives points to the following twelve competencies and qualities make a good leader and can predict if an individual can be a high performance executive:

  1. Work effectively with and through others – the ability to form strong and trusting relationships and inspire greatness at the individual, team and enterprise levels.  They are highly self-aware and adept at negotiating their social/political business landscape.
  2. Impeccable integrity – people trust in their words, intentions and actions.
  3. Adaptable and constantly growing – they quickly cycle new information and adapt themselves and their business to reflect the needs of the business.
  4. Driven to succeed and highly resilient – they never give up and are almost impossible to discourage.
  5. Humble temperament – they don’t have or pretend to have all the answers.  They are self-aware of their strengths and weaknesses.  They are open to constructive feedback and are the first to admit their mistakes.
  6. Deal with reality – They tell themselves the truth and own their problems no matter how ugly they are. They are relentless when it comes to resolving performance problems, political dysfunction and business challenges.
  7. Lead the business – They stay close to the needs of their customers and continuously evolve their strategy, products, services and organizations to reflect those needs.  They effectively communicate a vision and drive the organization forward.
  8. Create energy – they seek to limit bureaucracy and political infighting, empower people and nurture an entrepreneurial spirit throughout the organization.
  9. Solid judgment – They exercise solid judgment backed by the appropriate business and mental models.  They listen to the opinions of trusted sources and diligently collect relevant information regarding strategic decisions.  As a result, they consistently get strategic decisions correct and avoid costly missteps.
  10. Appropriate focus – They focus on the appropriate level of work and problem solving while effectively delegating, empowering and hold others accountable for driving tactical decisions, action and outcomes at subordinate levels.
  11. Act like owners – They make decisions based on the long-term health and success of the business.  They are transparent in their decision-making and those decisions reflect the care and concern for the business first, the team second and their own interests last.
  12. Build executive bench strength – They carefully select and develop the best team available.  It is a central duty of the high performance executive to develop deep executive bench strength in key positions through coaching, experiential learning and regular feedback.  They continuously challenge, encourage and push people out of their comfort zones to raise their games.  Conversely they are quick to deal with poor performers and individuals who do not operate within the core values. (see Building a High Performance Team)

High performance executives are typically not the big flashy personalities often seen on CNBC, backed by PR spokespeople looking to take credit for everything that goes well and are quick to deflect fault when mistakes are made.  Anyone can have a great quarter or two, but high performance executives build teams and business that have a legacy of consistently out performing their peers over a long term.

If you score high in these competencies that make a good leader it is not a guarantee that your business is best in class, because other factors like market conditions, how long you have been in the role and a number of conditions influence the current business performance.  On the other hand, if an executive scores low on the majority of these twelve areas I can all but assure that his or her business is or will shortly be in trouble, declining or is sub-optimized at many different levels.  I also suggest reading Common Problems Executives Face.

How would you and others rate you in these areas?  Take our High Performance Executive 360 assessment and see how you score.

Visit our executive programs page to learn about the various types of executive coaching we offer.

If you’d like to learn more about becoming a high performance executive, please contact Tim Allard at 434-984-0425 or email tim@odysseyhps.com

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