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CEO Best Practice: Leadership

Executive Tools

  • Executive Summary
  • Self Assessment Checklist

Expert Practices Articles

  • Leadership: An Overview
  • Building a Vision
  • Leadership Styles
  • The Art of Communication
  • Team Building
  • Motivating Others
  • Decision Making
  • Delegating Responsibility
  • Leaders Building Leaders

Tools & Analysis

  • Leadership Assessment Form
  • Management vs. Leadership
  • A Step-by-Step Approach to Changing Culture
  • Continuing to Develop Using 360-degree Feedback
  • Ongoing 360-degree Feedback: How to Get It, How to Use It

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Leadership: An Overview

According to our best practices experts, these basic competencies are considered vital for effective leadership:

  • Develop a vision. With a competent, motivated staff, the leader is free to develop a working vision of the organization's future.
  • Know yourself. Your actions must align harmoniously with specific values, behavior and principles.
  • Connect with others. Understand what makes your employees perform at their best and give them what they need to help the business succeed.

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Building a Vision

The leader's vision must be both feasible and far-reaching. Our TEC Speakers urge CEOs to build a vision by expanding their intellectual horizons. Get out of the office and explore the world around you. Attend leadership seminars. Visit with other CEOs in organizations like TEC.

Spend time with key customers. Find out what services and products they're waiting for someone to design in the future.

Leaders set the tone and pace for change. Their compelling agenda invigorates employees and, if successful, spills over to the customers as well.

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Leadership Styles

All organizational cultures reflect the personalities of their leaders. Every day, in hundreds of ways, the leader demonstrates to others what is suitable -- and unsuitable -- in the workplace.

The CEO must therefore adopt a distinctive, passionate style of leadership. Nothing done conventionally by the CEO will offer any competitive advantage. Conventional thinking always and everywhere leads to conventional outcomes.

Great leaders make themselves visible. They infuse courage and trust in employees in a variety of ways:

  • Tell it like it is. The people who follow you deserve to know what's going on and will do a better job with the facts at hand.

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The Art of Communication

It's essential to communicate at all levels of the organization. No other single action is as crucial to winning employee trust and confidence.

Our Vistage speakers advise keeping these principles in mind when communicating your vision:

  • Paint a picture. Use metaphors, analogies and specific examples to make your message more vivid.
  • Keep it simple. Avoid jargon or "techno-talk."
  • Repeat, repeat, repeat. People absorb ideas only after they've heard them repeated several times.
  • Confront uncertainty. Don't hesitate to discuss "glitches" or mid-course adjustments the organization must work through. Let employees know that occasional setbacks are a normal part of the change process.

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Team Building

The first step in building a strong senior executive team is hiring the right people. Don't underestimate the long-term negative effects of the wrong hire. A bad hire wastes time and money, and can collapse morale within the organization and damage customer relations.

With a strong team in place, leaders work to promote a community atmosphere. Our TEC Speakers suggest these practices:

  • ·Promote learning as an integral part of everyday work life.
  • Treat people with respect.
  • Ensure that team members understand the importance of their individual contributions.
  • Work together as a team especially when things go wrong, identifying problems without blame.

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Motivating Others

Long-term business success depends on having a corporate culture where people are motivated to excel. This originates directly from the leader's compelling agenda.

According to our TEC Speakers, high-performance organizations are "purpose-driven," while others just operate day by day. With purpose comes new ideas -- and new ideas remain the most valuable commodity in our world of information-overload.

How can leaders harness their employees' creative energy?

  • ·An inspiring mission
  • A sense of urgency shared by all

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Decision Making

Strong leaders scrutinize every element of the organization -- products, services, markets, methods of distribution and value to the customer -- because the business depends on it. They decide which elements to preserve and which should be abandoned.

Certain conditions indicate when the right action is letting go:

  • Products, services, markets or processes that still have "a few good years of life" usually require the greatest effort to maintain.
  • Products, services, markets, etc. that are fully written off may generate some tax value, but the effective leader asks, "Wouldn't we better off without them?"

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Delegating Responsibility

Our Vistage Speakers offer these guidelines for delegating responsibility:

  • Define the task. Don't tell people how to do the job; describe the results you want.
  • Offer suggestions. Some individuals take the ball and run, while others are unsure about how to proceed. Offer helpful suggestions that enable them to perform at a higher level.
  • Don't hover. Once you've assigned a task, give people room to operate and the freedom to be creative in their approach.

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Leaders Building Leaders

What do true mentors do?

  • Focus on a person's strengths and potential.
  • Convince a person that he or she has greatness within.
  • Put aside their own agendas to help others express their unique talents.

Mentoring offers benefits for the individual and the organization alike. For the individual, mentoring provides (1) enhanced people management skills; (2) the ability to set and achieve performance-stretching goals; and (3) the confidence to lead others and serve as an advocate for change.

For the organization, mentoring benefits include (1) greater resources for accelerating companywide change; (2) assistance in maintaining performance during times of transition; and (3) promotion of organizational stability during periods of restructuring.

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