Three years ago I started a leadership research project called Apple to Zappos focused on discovering what leaders of companies that were thriving in the 21st-century were doing that others we’re not. That research, combined with data from over 200,000 executives and my 30 years of professional practice, has led me to a few simple things about what makes leaders great…
Apple to Zappos Conclusions – Truly great leaders do five things consistently well:
- They set a clear inspiring direction rooted in something that deeply matters to them. They turn their personal vision into their leadership agenda.
- They inspire innovation by explaining the external threats and internal opportunities to leapfrog the competition and enrich customers’ lives.
- They drive active collaboration by blowing up boundaries that stifle innovation and inhibit execution.
- They produce a steady stream of positive results by making it easier for employees to succeed.
- They challenge everyone to consistently learn and improve by modeling open-minded persistence.
As you look at this list I hope five things strike you…
First, how rare excellent leadership is; in fact, a meta analysis shows that only about 3% of senior leaders of large enterprises do these five things well. Perhaps that’s obvious. How many times in your career have you been led by somebody who had a smart inspiring vision, built and sustained a self-motivated culture and consistently got benchmark breaking results?
There are two more things that might not be so obvious. Great leaders can be developed if they are very self-aware and have high-energy. Self-awareness is a precondition of greatness. Yet research confirms that the person who knows the least about your effectiveness is you. Leadership surveys using 360° feedback demonstrate that the person who is furthest from everyone else’s opinion is the person being surveyed. This is a problem because lack of self-knowledge is a career killer.
And just knowing your strengths is not the answer. Throughout my career I constantly have seen that people are hired for their strengths but fired for their weakness. There’s something much more powerful and productive than developing a strength and it’s called developing your balance. This is the balance between your strengths and weaknesses. For instance, confidence without humility is arrogance, but humility without confidence is insecurity. It’s the balance of both confidence and humility that makes what Jim Collins described as ‘Level 5 Leaders.’ There are 10 key combinations that make up a leadership road map of inner balance that will determine your effectiveness at creating inspiring direction, promoting a self-motivated culture and driving results – the three essentials of great leadership.
The third non-obvious factor of great and effective leaders is high energy. Dr. Jim Loehr, the co- founder of the Human Performance Institute (HPI), asked me to lead his advisory board about 10 years ago. What I discovered looking at HPI’s research is that much of leadership failure is caused by stress and exhaustion. Many people are simply not fit to lead. This is true because a lack of energy leads to bad judgment, impulsive decision-making and an inability to deal with complexity. We also know that energy is the primary fuel of willpower, discipline and innovation. What I find with many leaders is poor habits of sleep, nutrition and exercise. This is often compounded with poor meeting management, over scheduling and relentless stress due to competing commitments.
From Apple to Zappos:
“Apple to Zappos” is today’s up-to-the minute story of how innovative companies are thriving by turning business-as-usual upside down. Through data research, executive interviews and in-the-trenches client projects with many of today’s thriving companies, leadership expert, Will Marré, shows how big companies like Apple, Nike, and Cisco, and smaller ones like Clifbar and Elite Service Systems and scores of others are becoming unbeatable.
In the depth of the recession leadership expert, Will Marré, saw that several of his clients were thriving, even hiring new talent and buying new technology. Most of all, he began to investigate why some companies like Apple and Hyundai were ferociously growing while competitors in the same industries were floundering. He recruited a team of researchers from the University of California San Diego and Clemson University’s MBA program and began to study companies’ strategy and leadership at fast growth, market dominate, high innovation companies versus the industry laggards. The research teams continue to examine data and interview senior executives at companies marked by 7 competitive indicators:
- sustainability initiatives
- employee engagement
- social responsibility
- brand insistence
The research project now called “21 Companies for the 21st Century” is identifying the leadership mindset and business practices that are leading to breakaway innovations and benchmark-busting results.
The research is revealing some astonishing insights.
- Successful leaders are telling us that the 21st century demands business strategy that is fundamentally different than the 20th century leadership models most are following.
- The new economics of sustainable innovation combined with new demands by consumers and employees has changed how economic value is created.
- Most lagging companies’ leaders are not yet asking the right questions let alone coming up with the right answers.
- For more detail on the companies included in the research click here »
As my research findings became clear I spent a great deal of time reflecting on how I could translate them into a program that would be most effective at helping good leaders become great.
The result is a 12-week program called SMART Power Coaching. It’s short, intense and guaranteed… and in today’s world, that’s what matters.
SMART Power Coaching Program:
- Three months long.
- Focused on a business goal as well as your personal leadership development… you learn by doing.
- Increase your leadership capacity by developing the specific behaviors of leadership power.
The program begins with a series of proprietary leadership assessments identifying your strengths and weaknesses balance, core motivations, leadership effectiveness potential, leadership power assessment and your leadership energy.
Live 360° interviews with your bosses, peers and direct reports.
A critical business objective is selected as well as your leadership development goals.
A tailored, high-energy program of nutrition, exercise and sleep is developed and supported.
Each week each client will receive a leadership challenge designed to build a specific competency to improve performance.
Each week each client will have a one hour direct coaching session to help achieve his/her critical business goal and drive progress on his/her leadership development goals.
New daily habits and a daily performance routine will be established for the coaching to optimize results.
All results are guaranteed.
If you want to know about Will’s Coaching to Win philosophy and what powers it can unlock for you please read his Leadership Manifesto. It may just change your future…
Take our quiz: Are You a Great Leader?