Adam Bryant writes a column in the New York Times called The Corner Office. He has selected 70 of the over 200 interviews he has done with CEO’s for his column and put some core insights from these into a book, The Corner Office: Indispensable and Unexpected Lessons from CEO’s and How to Lead and Succeed. You can hear a short interview of Bryant in a recent issue of Knowledge@Wharton.
In addition to sharing the CEOs’ lessons and tips around both managing and leading, the author distilis five qualities of successful leaders, those who keep getting promoted:
- Passionate curiosity
- Battle-hardened confidence
- Team smarts
- A simple mindset
Passionate curiosity is about asking lots of questions in whatever situation, fueled by an unyielding interest in understanding what is happening, what it means, how it works, etc. I’m not sure this can be taught. I think it is part of one’s core personality. Yes, you can train yourself to ask questions but it’s the drive to want to know that must be genuinely in place, or you will burn yourself out in the process.
Battle-hardened confidence seems to me a prerequisite for fearlessness. You have to know what you are capable of in order to be able to know how much risk you can handle in the bold actions you take.
But the one that intrigues me the most is a simple mindset. This is about being able to take complexity and a multiplicity of potential strategies or issues, boil them down to an essential two or three, and lead the enterprise around these simple, clear priorities. It’s easier for us to follow a leader who simplifies our complex world, so we don’t have keep expending psychic energy wondering what we should be doing and why?
Anyway, I pass Adam Bryant’s information over to you from (to quote Mad Magazine’s famous line) “our for what it’s worth department.” And it is worth reflecting on…for how we can be better leaders.