At 360Leaders, the nature of our work means we are fortunate enough to brush shoulders with a number of high-performing business talents in the global tech community – some who are already at the top of their game and others who will likely feature in lists of the best leaders in the not-too-distant future.
Meeting with such high-calibre candidates allows us to gain insight into what makes a great executive, and when we are able to place them in a budding business in need of strong leadership, we gain a sense of reward from seeing the immediate positive impact they have on these companies.
However, once these leaders have reached peak performance, how do they maintain the same trajectory and continue their success? In a business environment fraught with fierce competition, every C-Level executive wants to be the best in their space. In reality, there is no such place as “the best” – once you have reached the top, the work continues to ensure you consistently excel and achieve a healthy return on investment.
In most cases, employees won’t take notice of a leader outperforming their industry rivals. Great leadership is business as usual and the minimum expectation for your staff and executive colleagues alike. Do a great job and people won’t bat an eyelid. Underperform and all eyes will be firmly on you. So, how do you go about solving this problem and becoming not just a good leader, but a C-Suite Superstar?
It begins with six simple steps.
1. Hire the right blend of talent
The most effective C-Suite leaders lead from the centre of their organisations, empowering those around them to build on their skills so they can help take the business to new heights through innovation. However, there will be little success if you don’t hire the right people to begin with. If you are to go beyond good management to next-level leadership, your talent-sourcing methods must be tightened up to ensure only the most suitable candidates are taken on board.
Aside from demonstrable skill and high potential, businesses should place their focus on candidates’ attitudes and behavioural qualities. Exceptional leaders appreciate the importance of building a diverse workforce but are strict in their demand for candidates whose values and principles align with their own.
2. Live by your values
Leaders set the tone for the culture within an organisation; their actions, behaviours and values drive the engagement levels in the business and shape the attitudes of those around them. Since culture and leadership are inextricably linked, members of the C-suite must make a conscious effort to live and breathe their values consistently, never allowing hurdles or headwinds to steer them off course.
Having already achieved success as a leader, the chances are you already know how to get results – according to research from HBR, top-tier business executives have high standards, are result-driven strategists and personable mentors and motivators capable of building engaged teams. It may seem like a lot to ask – in reality, it’s simply about being the change you want to see by demonstrating the beliefs of the company in everything you do.
3. Be an authentic leader
If there’s one key ingredient in the recipe for employee engagement, it is authenticity. Leaders who lack this struggle to build trust, while those who are transparent and genuine at every turn benefit from increased productivity and motivation at every level. A number of studies have shown that managers who act with humility inspire great teamwork and focus everyone around them on organisational goals.
They achieve this by acknowledging the accomplishments of those around them as well as their own. Further to this, exceptional leaders make a point to celebrate collaborative achievements to inspire a strong sense of morale. If your aim is to maintain your role as an influencer, you should actively be encouraging employees to speak up and championing the best ideas regardless of where they came from – be it a fellow executive or a front-line employee.
4. Forge strong relationships
When a leader nurtures strong relationship with their top talent and encourages input from every individual in the business, they win the hearts and minds of not only their team but the wider business community. In the age of reviews, it doesn’t take a lot for a leader to get a bad reputation. If you can be flexible to the wide range of working styles that exist within your workforce, you’re well on your way to success.
If you want to be seen as an influential leader, you must make a commitment to get to know your employees – listen to their ideas, hear their concerns, understand their priorities and work together to ensure their own career aspirations can be achieved with the company. It’s a long game, but it in an increasingly competitive landscape, relationships and reputations win the war for talent.
5. Get a handle on your digital presence
In the digital age, your social media presence is the face of your business and the first impression that a large portion of your prospective customers and employees will judge you on. With this in mind, business leaders have a responsibility to know the company’s social media policy and ensure said guidelines are clearly communicated to those responsible for managing each channel. The last thing a business wants is to go viral for the wrong reasons.
Beyond company posts, digital leaders use social media to get buy-in from their employees on the vision and values of the business. Not only do platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter allow leaders the opportunity to connect with people on a human level, but social media can further prove an effective way of sharing knowledge. By building a presence online and consistently giving your followers a good reason to click, you affirm your reputation in the sector as a go-to for valuable insight.
6. Follow the Pareto Principle
As a C-Level executive, you must quickly learn to accept that you cannot meet everyone’s needs at all times. New leaders, trying to tackle every task at once should realise this is a fast-track ticket to failure. Instead, C-Suite leaders should adhere to the Pareto Principle, or 80/20 Rule. The Pareto Principle states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. If you can figure out which 20% of your time produces 80% of your business’ best results, you can concentrate your energy on these activities. Become a master of the Pareto Principle and you will automatically be a cut above the rest.