The Top 10 Qualities Of High Performing Leaders

The Top 10 Qualities Of High Performing Leaders

The Top Ten Qualities Of High Performing Leaders 

By Mark Wager

The ultimate aim of any commercial organisation is the same, it’s to increase revenue, reduce costs and to make bigger profits. If you are a senior manager then you know just how much time you dedicate trying to find ways to innovate processes, cut back on expenditure, reduce transaction costs all with the ultimate aim of increasing profits, yet the answer to what management is seeking may well be in front of them. It’s all about having quality leaders. The better the leaders the bigger the profits.

In this week’s article I’m going to explore some research that shows just how much of a difference a quality leader can make to an organisation’s profits in comparison to a poor leader and what precisely is the difference and what are the top ten qualities that the highest performing leaders possess.

We all know the anecdotal evidence about the impact that a great leader can have on their team. I'm sure we have all experienced how much your work and general happiness at work can be influenced by working alongside an inspirational leader compared to working for a poor leader but let’s take time out to look beyond anecdotal and look at some practical evidence. 

In 2015 Jack Zenger and Joe Folkman conducted research in order to determine what the actual impact Leadership  had on an organisation’s profitability. Firstly they studied the feedback reports of approximately 50,000 Managers in order to seperate them into three clear categories based on their leadership traits. The top 10% were categorised as the high quality leaders while the bottom 10% were categorised as poor leaders and the rest made up the remaining 80%, the average or good leaders. Once this was done they then looked at how these leaders impacted the bottom line of their teams. 

Poor Leaders cost you money, good leaders make you money.

The bottom 10% (the poor leaders) produced a total loss of $1.2 million dollars (U.S) within their teams while the bulk of the research the middle 80% of  Leaders were responsible for $2.4 million dollars(U.S) profits yet the top 10% of Leaders, the ones with the highest quality of leadership skills were leading teams that generated an incredible $4.5 million dollars(U.S) profits, significantly higher than the poor performing leaders.

Leadership clearly makes a difference not just on how people feel but ultimately to the profit margins of an organisation. The top 10% of Leaders will on average generate nearly four times the profit of those who are considered poor leaders but this then raises another question. What are those qualities that make a difference, what is precisely the difference between the poor leaders and the great leaders, what are the top 10% of Leaders doing differently? Here according to another extensive research also by Jack Zenger and Joe Folkman are the top 10 qualities that the top leaders possess.

Quality 1: The ability to inspire and motivate others 

Leaders need to be able to create environments within which people are encouraged to be the best they can be. An environment which allows the individuals within the team to be part of something that is greater than themselves.

Quality 2: They display high levels of integrity and honesty. 

Leaders are only able to lead when the people around them trust and respect them enough in order to follow them and that all starts with integrity and honesty. Without this people follow because they have to and not because they want to. 

Quality 3: They solve problems and are able to analyse issues. 

The best leaders are also problem solvers. This doesn’t mean they have to have the answers to every question but more they know what questions to address, knowing how to utilise the expertise around them in order to discover solutions.

Quality 4: They drive results. 

A team looks towards the actions of their leader as a guide to what is expected so it’s vital that a leader demonstrates a drive for results. It’s important that no matter what happens the team doesn’t lose focus of what it wants to achieve.

Quality 5: They communicate often and in a variety of ways.

The most common complaint people raise about leaders is poor communication. A  lot of leaders try to communicate but very few do it effectively. The key is not what you say but it’s what people hear that counts, so adapting the message to suit the audience,

Quality 6: They build relationships. 

You ask any successful entrepreneur what is the most important thing about business and they will all tell you it’s about relationships. Focus  on relationships and getting everyone to know, like and trust each other and everything else will take care of itself.

Quality 7: They display technical and/or professional expertise. 

Leaders don’t have to be experts in the field in which they are leading but they do need to know the business well enough in order to understand the challenges their people face and have technical discussions.

Quality 8: They display a strategic perspective. 

A poor leader doesn’t know what is going on, an average leader can tell you about what has happened today yet the best leaders can talk about what is going to happen in the future. A leader needs to be able to articulate the future and map out a pathway on  how to get where they want to be.

Quality 9: They develop others. 

A key quality of any successful leader is the ability to develop those around them. While poor leaders hold people back, quality leaders are able to help people reach a level of performance they never imagined possible and while average leaders create followers the best leaders create more leaders.  

Quality 10: They innovate. 

The last quality but by no means the least, the highest performing leaders possess is the ability to innovate. As times get tough more and more people are required to do more with less resources so it’s vital that a leader is able to embrace innovation, finding new ways to do things better. 

The message is clear if you want to make more money then the main area you need to focus on is the quality of leadership within your organisation. If you can improve the skills of your leaders, especially the top ten qualities listed above you will see a remarkable difference, in your people, within your teams and ultimately in your profits.

Posted: Thursday 2 December 2021

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