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Two New Reports: The Skills You Need as an Executive

Two consulting firms have released extensive research that reported the skills that most strongly correlate to strong executive performance. According to Global Newswire, Development Dimensions International (DDI), a human resources consulting firm, distilled nearly ten years of research on quality leadership into five specific skills that contribute to high performance in the C-Suite:

Entrepreneurship: “Crafting plans to capitalize on market opportunities”

Business Savvy: “Quickly and accurately sizing up the merits and risks in complex business scenarios”

Driving Execution: “Devising specific plans and mobilizing people to achieve strategic objectives”

Decision Making: “Making effective day-to-day judgments about short-term issues”

Leading Change: “Identifying the need for organizational change, and effectively leading people through it.”

Ron Carucci, a co-founder and managing partner at Navalent, shared contrasting results from a 10-year study on executive transitions in the Harvard Business Review. His team isolated four important patterns that the most effective executives exhibit at work:

They know the whole business

“Many leaders arrive into the C-suite having grown up in functions like Marketing or Finance and lean too heavily on instincts and cognitive biases shaped by their ascent within those disciplines….Exceptional executives defy such predispositions in order to integrate the entire organization into a well synchronized machine. Executives develop breadth by broadening their exposure to the full organization and taking assignments across disciplines.”

They are great decision-makers

“Because they’re good decision-makers, they’re also good prioritizers, since setting priorities is all about selectively choosing from among various tradeoffs. Focusing on a few priorities helps these executives ensure successful execution and avoid overwhelming the system with competing goals.”

They know the industry

“The leaders who scored highest on this skill were described as having innate curiosity and deep knowledge of their business context which they apply to wider economic, technological, and customer trends. Armed with a clear point of view, these exemplars more readily addressed threats and took earlier advantage of opportunities.”

They form deep, trusting relationships

“It was no surprise that of the four dimensions, relational failure led to the quickest demise among second-best executives.  While exceptional executives led with a humble confidence that graciously extended care to others, second-best executives were inclined to manage perceptions, creating the illusion of collaboration while masking self-interested motives.”

Although these two reports offer different perspective, they are not mutually exclusive. Both findings, for example, point to strong decision-making as fundamental to leadership ability.