At Lancor, we specialize in C-suite placement at Private Equity Firms. We have seen firsthand which traits keep leaders at the helm and exactly what is needed to handle adversity. We also see what not to do.
When recommending that a client meet with a candidate, we examine what each executive brings to the table. We look beyond their resume, past their charisma, and focus on the details that will line up with what a firm needs. We are known for finding the best leadership talent around the world for C-suite placement.
So what exactly makes someone a great leader in business? If you are ready to move up in your career or aiming for the C-Suite, here are 5 pieces of advice:
Lone Wolves Burn Out Quickly: There are always C-Suite executives that equate leadership with being the sole decision maker. These types of leaders believe that their instincts and experience are all they need–and everyone should defer to them. While many brilliant minds are able to lead like this, it isn’t usually appreciated by the board of advisors, colleagues, and support team. This can cause great talent to leave. If a leader’s sphere of advisors on their inner circle gets smaller over time – disaster often ensues and this sadly is quite evident in the world today at large. I If you want to command respect and make better decisions, it is crucial to understand that whatever your role–even at the top–you are part of a larger team. Utilizing, connecting with or building a strong team are essential to long term wins.
Rely on a Diverse Group of Opinions: Great business leaders don’t operate in a bubble. They seek out a wide range of opinions from people who think differently than they do. In fact, more diversity leads to greater profits. According to Harvard Business Review, companies with higher diversity (measured as an average of nationality, industry, gender, career path, education and age) had a 19% increase in innovation revenue and a 9% higher EBIT margins, on average. You can rise up the ladder by listening to an insulated group but if you don’t have the benefit of outside opinions to make sure you aren’t going down a wrong path, eventually you will hit a wall.
Develop Intellectual Curiosity & Humility: If you think you finally figured it out – Beware! The best executives are always looking to learn. They read voraciously. They continue to further their education, even with smaller classes and courses. Make sure to schedule time to expand your knowledge, whether that is learning more about your team, your industry, your clients–or the wider world. Be curious to always learn more and humble enough to know that others will have ideas and insights that may get to solutions more efficiently.
Always Refine Your Management Skills: Having too broad a reach is an issue we see particularly with executives that have been entrepreneurs or founded startups. The ability to pivot, be nimble and solve multiple problems works particularly well when building a business, but once you hit a senior leadership role that’s when strong management and delegation skills are needed. Specializing in C-suite placement, we know that the best leaders empower others to assess situations, make decisions and be a sounding board through this process.
Have fun!!: I remembered reading “Have Fun” as one of the key tenets of the values at my former investment bank Donaldson Lufkin Jenrette (DLJ). I remember long hours and most days did not seem particularly fun…. However the culture was about as good as it could be in banking and our clients often commented that although the work product was obviously key, the fun factor was right behind it as the reason they liked working with us. We all work hard and sadly spend more time at work than with family and friends, so this ability to foster a culture of fun is very important to the C-Suite skill set. Setting the precedent at the top, and empowering others to be aware that results are essential but it should be fun getting there.