Executives on Leadership: What Leadership Quality Is Not on the List?

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Recently I had the pleasure to hear the members of our Executive Team here at CU*Answers discuss the role of leadership, and the qualities that go along with it. During the introduction, the members were presented with a list of twenty-two traits that are generally thought of as making a good leader.

Focused
Confident
Transparent
High Integrity
Inspirational
Passionate
Innovative
Patient

Stoic
Wonky
Authentic
Open-minded
Decisive
Personable
Empowered

Positive
Generous
Persistent
Insightful
Communicative
Accountable
Restless

After giving their initial thoughts on the list, the members were asked whether there was a leadership quality that each would add. This section really spoke to me since it was not the typical leadership discussion material, but really got to the heart of the personal leadership style of each Executive Council member.

Randy Karnes, CEO of CU*Answers, spoke about the need to be optimistic and forward thinking. “I do think that you have to be positive, and you have to be an optimist. And you have to believe the future will always be brighter,” Karnes said. “What other choice do you have as a leader than to simply say forward? And forward is always better than backwards, no matter what.”

Geoff Johnson, President and Chief Operations Officer, added a personal quality that makes a great leader. “I would add confidence at that personal level, regardless of how you approach a room full of people or a problem,” said Johnson. “Be comfortable with yourself. Be confident in yourself. And recognize that that will carry forward with everyone that you interact with, regardless of the situation.”

Scott Collins, Executive Vice President of National Sales and Marketplace Relationships, brought up a quality that often is not thought of when leading. “What I would add is to be a good listener…so attentiveness.” Collins said. “To listen to customers, to listen to your teammates, and to just be aware of what is going on in your team and in your surroundings is what defines a leader.”

Bob Frizzle, Chief Financial Officer, added responsibility to the list of qualities that make a good leader. “As far as what’s not on here I would add responsibility. First, you need to be responsible to the group you’re leading, and second, you need to be responsible for the group you’re leading,” commented Frizzle. “You want to stand in front of that group and represent the group in the outcome. You want to be able to take any heat the group deserves occasionally. But you also want to look at that group and be responsible for them and their needs to succeed.”

We have all read those books or perhaps articles on leadership, naming their “top ten” or “top twenty” qualities that make someone a leader. But these extra qualities that the Executive Team spoke about are what really makes a leader and in my opinion are what really define leadership. When you go beyond the normal to develop your own leadership style, that is when you have really become a leader.

Now that you have read the responses of these four leaders, what quality would you add that might not generally make the list of a leadership top ten or even twenty?

What is that elusive quality of leadership you have that makes you a leader?

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  • Senior Technical Writer, Writing Department, CU*Answers

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