8 Traits of Successful & Happy Leaders

8 Traits of Successful & Happy Leaders

Over the course of the last 15 years, I’ve worked with hundreds of successful leaders and interviewed thousands of executives for leadership positions in government. The people who resonate with me and my clients most are those who are both successful and happy. These people figured out how to be the most effective at the helm of their careers and in managing their personal lives. What do they all have in common?

Here are the eight common traits I have consistently observed in this group of people:

  1. Always stepping out of their comfort zone. As a means to constantly develop more confidence, they are constantly learning new things and taking on new challenges. Their desire to push their own boundaries inspires others around them to do the same.

2. Work super smart (and hard). Emphasis on “smart” meaning their time is thoughtfully invested in the things that they absolutely have to be doing and no one else can do. These are often considered the highest level income generating activities in the business world and high level policy and strategic work in the public sector. Working smart often entails structure which keeps them focused and disciplined about the highest and best use of their time.

3. Learning never stops. An intense hunger for knowledge and information excites them, fuels their passion and humbles them because they can never know enough. They are fascinated by what they don’t know.

4. Constant quest for improvement.  The ongoing pursuit of making something or someone better, stronger or more efficient energizes the mind and satisfies the heart. This applies to their personal life as much as it does their business.

5. They are present and get the most out of each moment. I’ve noticed that those who are more present also tend to be mindful and grateful. This mindset actually also helps them to be great visionaries. They respect and learn from the past rather than get hung up on it.

6. Recognize the importance of compound decision making. Success in anything is manifested from a series of smaller decisions. In order to avoid becoming overwhelmed or actions that don’t advance personal and/or organizational goals, they remember that it’s the little decisions that cumulatively lead to major achievements and help to keep the spark in their momentum.

7. Practice good self-care. What we entrepreneurs are often bad at and it’s the one area that could likely help us (and those around us!) the most. It turns out that this special population insists upon making room in their schedule to care for themselves and view this as a non-negotiable priority if they are to achieve and sustain peak performance. Beyond basic exercise, many of them also make room for meditation and/or designated time and space to think, create and innovate.

8. Integration of professional and personal life. In this 24/7 all-access tech oriented culture we have become accustomed to, they accept that that their professional life will sometimes bleed into their personal space and they are okay with it. Releasing the expectation of always having bright lines between personal and professional reduces the stress and helps manage the expectations of those around them. By structuring a healthy level of integration between the two in ways that work for them, having a bit of “grey area” in their boundaries actually reduces stress and allows them to participate deeper in all areas.

Permission to reprint granted so long as article is published in its entirety and author is credited with the following:

Teri Black, President/CEO of Teri Black & Company, LLC, aLos Angeles-based executive search firm dedicated to serving the public sector.

Teri Black is a lifelong student of high performance and success and is President/CEO of a Los Angeles-based executive search firm dedicated to serving the public sector.  Teri Black & Company, LLC has recruited hundreds of local government executives for communities across the western United States.

Copyright © 2015 Teri Black & Company, LLC. All rights reserved.  For more information, please Contact Us.  Don’t forget to sign-up for TBC updates; connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn!

Time for a Corporate Culture Makeover ?

Although recovery is benefiting many sectors of our economy, organizations find that simply throwing money at high performers turns out to be an ineffective means of retaining top talent. Money rarely ranks at the top of “why I love my job” list. As competition for stellar employees and executives grows increasingly fierce, many organizations could use a “culture makeover” to enhance the likelihood of hanging onto their superstars.

In her book The Progress Principle, Harvard Professor Teresa Amabile calls attention to the significance of making progress in meaningful work as the most powerful positive event from which employees derive satisfaction. In interviewing hundreds of candidates each year, we hear a lot of complaints about culture and it’s often the impetus for someone to initiate the process of changing jobs

Here are the top four missing culture characteristics consistently cited:

1. Flexibility. Whether it’s wanting more time with the kids, tending to the needs of aging parents, learning a new language or having the option to work remotely on occasion, your best performers value flexibility around when, where and how they get their work done. Today more than ever, flexibility is highly coveted.

2. Connection. A frequently cited disappointment conveyed by front-line workers is a missing connection between their contributions and the bigger picture. This disconnect is commonly framed as, “Where are we going?” or “Why are we doing ‘this’?”. And when such a disconnect exists, employees also question how meaningful their work is and if their superiors even really know what they do.

3. Clarity. Employees crave clear expectations, roles, career paths, boundaries, and how success is defined for them. Managers often assure us that their employees know exactly what is expected of them and are aware of what constitutes desired results and success. When we talk to their employees, however, it’s not uncommon to find a mutual understanding that can be described as “blurry” at best.

4. Communications. The most prominent weakness we hear universally cited by employees at all levels is the desire for greater communications and information. The lack of communication impacts their commitment, ownership, pride and productivity. While it’s nice to hear directly from the Chief Executive, most employees report that a variety of communication strategies from their bosses help keep them engaged, informed and energized about their work. Electronic newsletters, regular meetings, video messages and even an occasional old fashioned handwritten note are all effective tools for satisfying the hunger for information and personal acknowledgement.

While employees want to listen, they also want to be heard. In order to feel truly valued, they want to offer up ideas, share constructive criticism, convey customer feedback and contribute strategically to the big picture.

Today, we’re all bogged down by too much information, competing priorities and technology tools tempting us to be available 24/7. Dedicating time and energy to culture is often viewed as optional by many leaders and only gets tended to when something goes horribly wrong or a pattern of fleeing employees comes to the attention of management. Don’t wait for a crisis to be concerned about employee retention and the reputation of your corporate culture. What change can you make in your environment to strengthen the magnetic force of your workplace?

Permission to reprint granted so long as article is published in its entirety and author is credited with the following:

Teri Black is a lifelong student of high performance and success and is President/CEO of a Los Angeles based executive search firm dedicated to serving the public sector. Teri Black & Company, LLC has recruited hundreds of local government executives for communities across the western United States.

Copyright 2013 Teri Black & Company, LLC. For more information, please contact us. Don’t forget to sign-up for TBC updates; connect with us on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn!

10 Traits of Highly Effective Leaders

I was on location with a client recently, developing an executive candidate profile for a search we will be launching soon. While there, I had the opportunity to pick the brains of incredibly talented and respected executives who represent the public, private, and non-profit sectors.

In our discussions regarding the most critical characteristics frequently found in highly effective leaders, these common themes emerged:

1. Lead by Example: The behavior of the top executive sets the tone and example for the rest of the organization.

2. Accountable: Is 100% accountable for work performance of all those s/he leads, and embraces the responsibility of holding team members accountable.

3. Superior Interpersonal Skills: Masters the art of being able to connect with anyone regardless of title or role. S/he exhibits a genuine interest in everyone with whom s/he engages.

4. Not Entitled by Title: Whether a CEO of a major corporation or a high level government official, the most effective leaders don’t let their titles define them or allow it to inflate their egos.

5. Careful Listeners and Observers: Part of being an outstanding communicator means being a thoughtful listener. Great leaders are adept at not only processing information, but weighing in at the right time as well. In addition, they are lifelong students of human behavior.

6. Unequivocal Standards: Respected executives hold the line when it comes to realizing exceptionally high standards and expectations. High standards influence corporate culture along with the feel and durability of the brand.

7. Invests Time Wisely: Simply stated, being a good time manager helps one balance the never ending stream of competing priorities that are common to any CEO’s universe.

8. Seeks Advice and Counsel: Confident in his/her own abilities, adept leaders don’t hesitate to tap the knowledge and skills of their vast network. They appreciate the power of seeking advice and counsel of others instead of viewing this as a weakness.

9. Invites the Ideas of Others: The best at the top respect that innovation and solutions can come from anywhere and anyone. Their openness and proactive pursuit of ideas can enhance a collaborative culture and strengthen the creativity of any team.

10. Unflappable Demeanor: Whether there’s a natural disaster, major operational breakdown, or some other kind of drama, truly effective leaders are cool, calm and collected – regardless of the circumstance.

These are characteristics that should be evaluated during the interview process. For candidates, this is a helpful list that can help you define and articulate the strength of your individual leadership profile. For the hiring decision makers and influencers, this list can be used to inspire relevant interview questions that dive deeper into specific sociological dynamics of your desired executive. The good news is these characteristics can be learned, and by becoming aware of them, you can consciously strive to refine how they are practiced. After all, the best leaders lead by example.

Permission to reprint granted so long as article is published in its entirety and author is credited with the following:

Teri Black is a lifelong student of high performance and success and is President/CEO of a Los Angeles-based executive search firm dedicated to serving the public sector. Teri Black & Company, LLC has recruited hundreds of local government executives for communities across the western United States.

Copyright 2013 Teri Black & Company, LLC. For more information, please contact us. Don’t forget to sign-up for TBC updates; connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn!