For reasons that aren’t exactly clear to me, there’s a powerful tendency to overcomplicate the whole notion of leadership: what it is, why it matters, and how it manifests itself.
I’m not saying it’s a simple concept to master; quite the contrary. We see the evidence of this all around us in our daily lives: whether in business, politics, sports or other endeavors large and small, it’s not easy to find effective leaders who’ve built an enduring record of success.
In my own career, and with the great executives on my team now, I try to keep the leadership formula pretty simple. And yes, I know that scores of business books have been written about leadership, and it’s been the subject of countless courses and seminars in MBA programs. That’s great, and I’m sure each of those offers some value.
But I’ve found that the best way to be a leader, and to help shape high-potential young people into the leaders of tomorrow, is to ensure that these five abilities are always the focal points:
- Getting the strategy right.
- Executing that strategy.
- Putting the right people in the right places.
- Managing dual priorities that others see as conflicting.
- Keeping everyone focused on what matters.
Let me explain a little bit about each of these and why I think they’re so important—and why I think that efforts to add more and more layers onto the definition of leadership can be distracting at best and harmful at worst.