Business Skills For Startups
July 21, 2021
October 21, 2021
So you want to be a leader, whether that means inspiring an entire organization or managing a small team. But do you know what it takes to succeed?
As the CEO of one of the world’s largest organizational consulting firms, I’ve spent more than 14 years working with researchers and workplace experts to identify the skills and traits that have gotten people ahead.
Drawing from assessments of nearly 30,000 people at entry level, midlevel and C-suite, we compiled high-performance profiles that define what it takes to be great at each of these levels.
The best leaders have four key skills:
The chart below shows how these four traits relate to performance in the context of handling novel and uncertain situations, depending on an individual’s level of experience:
Focusing on the center of the chart, we can see that being detail-oriented is a trait that makes entry level managers great.
The greater the focus on detail at entry level, the more coworkers and bosses can count on assignments being completed thoroughly and accurately. In fact, detail orientation is so important, it is the “peak” for the high-performing entry-level employee.
For midlevel managers, detail orientation is less pronounced (a lower target to hit), but it remains an important aspect of being an effective leader.
However, high performance means successfully delegating to others. A midlevel or senior leader who gets personally bogged down in the details is ineffective and will not have the necessary mental bandwidth to focus on strategy.
From entry level to midlevel, excellence means ramping up in adaptability and tolerance of ambiguity, both of which come with experience, particularly involving decision-making and taking on greater responsibilities.
At the C-suite level, high-performing leaders are extremely adaptable and tolerant of ambiguity. They not only react to change but also initiate it.
Finally, at all three levels, curiosity is a distinguishing trait — and key to the upward movement. Here’s how curiosity plays into each level:
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