It is obvious that all of these leaders had the basic qualifications for the job they were doing, however there was something more to their personalities and their way of working that set them apart and made them extraordinary leaders. After careful consideration It was able to identify three key attributes:
1. Timely decision making
One CEO was always well prepared for every meeting and review. It was not that he made many quick or impulsive decisions, but if it was time to make a decision, he did not shy away from it even though all the details were not available at the time. He loved to say “things are not always black and white; we all get paid to work in the grey zone”. On the other hand, even when there were tons of data and information thrown at him but it was not the right time to make a decision; he would not make the decision just because one had to be made. The question still begs how he knew if it was time to make a decision or not and I don’t have a good answer for this yet. It can only say he made timely decisions because of two reasons; first, in hindsight, It can see the results of those decisions that he made; second, he never asked for irrelevant information or information in a different format just to shift the burden of decision making or blame of delay onto his team - a trick used by many incompetent leaders way too often.
2. Resonating with the team
At the university all were all competing for limited funding and test resources, but it was amazing to watch how well this lady managed all the test rigs and how effective she was in leading the team of technicians. During the morning scheduling meeting, or when some things needed to be done urgently later in the day, or when there was a mechanical or electrical issue to be fixed, it was a joy to watch her interact with the team. She knew when to be firm, when to crack a joke, when to pat someone on the back and when to give a stern look. She resonated perfectly with the team; she was not the best orator; she was not the most qualified; but she certainly had the ability to connect with people. one didn’t know it at the time, but now It can say she had a very high level of emotional intelligence.
3. Staying calm under pressure
After a few months in the new Continuous Improvement Leadership role in the company It was surprised to see a significant positive difference in all the metrics in this one manager’s department. Over the next few months as It observed more closely, It could see that the hallmark of his leadership style was his calm demeanor. Where others would sometimes become frustrated with the slow progress or lack of compliance on the floor; or other functions not agreeing to certain suggestions, this manager persevered. During union negotiations he would not concede his point easily, and he was able to listen to the other person’s point of view - he did not become agitated and in almost all of the cases, there was common ground found that led to resolutions. After that, I moved this manager around in the company to different departments to resolve some tough issues and he always succeeded - his calmness was contagious.