4 Leadership Behaviors Drive Company Performance

What makes the perfect CEO? McKinsey & Company set out to answer this important question, identifying key leadership behaviors that drive an effective executive and increase company performance. Using their extensive experience as a base, McKinsey recognized 20 comprehensive leadership behaviors that impact the performance of a company. Next, they surveyed of 189,000 people across 81 organizations. The results of their study found that only four traits account for 89% of leadership effectiveness:

  1. Be supportive
  2. Operate with strong results orientation
  3. Seek different perspectives
  4. Solve problems effectively

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If companies emphasize these traits in their leadership development, they can accelerate the positive impact of their executives. Lars Rebien Sørensen of Novo Nordisk, whom Harvard Business Review recently named the best-performing CEO in the world, reveals how his leadership behaviors nurtured his success. In an interview with HBR, Sørensen reflects one of the traits highlighted in McKinsey’s study, seek different perspectives:

“I have a Scandinavian leadership style, which is consensus-oriented. That principle is enshrined in our management procedures. I’m obliged to reach consensus with my colleagues on all decisions, and if we can’t, any objection needs to be reported to the board.”

Sørensen not only respects different perspectives, but he also infuses team support into corporate processes, refusing to see his own performance as separate from his team:

“I should have said at the beginning that I don’t like this notion of the ‘best-performing CEO in the world.’ That’s an American perspective — you lionize individuals. I would say I’m leading a team that is collectively creating one of the world’s best-performing companies. That’s different from being the world’s best-performing CEO — it’s a very big difference, especially in a business in which the timelines are 20 or 25 years. You inherit the situation from your predecessor. You may be the best CEO in the world, but you might inherit a bad business. Or the last guy spent 15 years creating a better business, and when the next guy takes over, he becomes a hero.”

Sørensen’s strong example reinforces two of the four leadership behaviors highlighted by McKinsey. Leaders who intend to make a similar strides can weave these priorities into their day-to-day management style to transform their organization.