What does it take to become a world-class leader? In this episode of the LeaderChat Podcast, we speak with Elena Botelho, coauthor of The CEO Next Door: The 4 Behaviors that Transform Ordinary People into World-Class Leaders.
“Most ideals about why people are successful are driven by stereotypes and gut feel rather than facts and data,” explains Botelho. “In this book, we’ve aspired to provide information about how anyone can be successful by helping readers learn from other successful people in business.”
Learnings shared in the book are based on groundbreaking research and in-depth analysis of more than 2,600 leaders drawn from a database of more than 17,000 CEO and C-suite executives. Botelho describes the four behaviors of highly successful people as identified by the research.
- They are decisive and understand the importance of speed over precision when making decisions. According to Botelho, most people assume that CEOs have an uncanny ability to make the right decisions more often than other people. But her research indicates that what really makes a CEO stand out isn’t necessarily the accuracy of their decision, but the speed and will to make the decision in the first place.
- They are reliable and deliver what they promise, when they promise it—without exception. This behavior sounds simple, but isn’t easy to practice consistently. Botelho describes the importance of being on time and doing what you say you’re going to do—and she offers another tip: “Highly reliable leaders are thoughtful about setting expectations right up front.” Botelho shares that this behavior not only improves the likelihood you will succeed in your role, but also increases your chances of being hired In the first place.
- They adapt boldly, especially when faced with the discomfort of the unknown. “Of the four behaviors, this is the one where people are most likely to underestimate their ability—and that is costly.” Botelho explains people naturally assume change will be painful, so they resist it. But her research shows that the most successful leaders are good at letting go of past behaviors, habits, and commitments that will not serve them in the future.
- They engage with stakeholders without shying away from conflict. These leaders focus on leading to deliver results that benefit the company as opposed to leading to be liked. They keep all stakeholders—customers, employees, and shareholders—in mind and manage those relationships.
Finally, Botelho shares some counterintuitive insights about making great strides in your career—what she calls career catapults. “Sometimes it is better to go small in order to go big,” Botelho says. Having an elite MBA or working for a marquee company is a great way to advance your career, but sometimes taking what looks like a side step instead of always focusing on moving up the ladder can have a more positive impact. By being in charge of a smaller project, division, or group, you might actually have a chance to practice more skills and get more exposure.
According to the author, here is the most important message to take away from The CEO Next Door and this podcast: Excellence is more achievable for us than we assume.
Be sure to stay tuned for comments from Ken Blanchard at the end of the podcast!
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