Leadership Qualities that Lead to the Corner Office?

Adam Bryant

Adam Bryant

Adam Bryant, deputy national editor at the New York Times interviewed more than 200 CEOs of top companies for his column, and distilled the leadership qualities that moved them to The Corner Office: Indispensable and Unexpected Lessons from CEOs on How to Lead and Succeed :

  • Passionate curiosity, deep engagement with questioning mind and a balance of analytical and creative competencies
  • Confidence based on facing adversity, knowing capabilities
  • Collaboration, ability to “read” and shape team dynamics
  • Ability to translate complex to simple explanations
  • Fearlessness in acting on considered risks  The Corner Office

These five characteristics augment qualities that might be considered “table stakes” – or “must-haves” for any leadership candidate:

  • Preparation
  • Patience
  • Navigating organizational obstacles  
  • Building a team of diverse members by galvanizing with a clear mission and spending time with members

Bryant argues that these behavioral competencies may be developed through attentive effort, but he acknowledges that some people have greater natural predisposition and aptitude for these “ways of being.”

Lois Frankel

Lois Frankel

Lois Frankel’s earlier book, Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office: 101 Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers provided different recommendations for women seeking leadership roles, later empirically validated in research studies:

  • Act like a mature woman rather than a “girl”
  • Frame statements as assertions rather than questions
  • State and initiate a course of action, rather than waiting to request permissionNice Girls Dont Get The Corner

In contrast, Bryant particularly advises women to “meet as many people as possible and build relationships because serendipity and chance encounters can lead to unplanned opportunities.”

Research organizations like Catalyst and Center for Talent Innovation conduct social science research to investigate these behavioral and attitudinal recommendations.

CatalystBoth groups have questioned the applicability of mainstream recommendations in leadership development curricula when implemented by women, minorities and “people of color.”

Their continuing research agendas include analyzing the behavioral components of general recommendations such as “demonstrate gravitas” which the majority of top executives affirmed as “… critical for leadership. I can’t define it but I know if when I see it.”Center for Talent Innovation

These research organizations seek to more clearly define what these key executives see in critical leadership attributes like “gravitas” and to define them in replicable behavior terms.

-*Which leadership behaviors do you consider most important for any executive?
-*Which behavioral competencies are most crucial for aspiring women leaders?

Related posts:

Twitter:   @kathrynwelds
Blog: Kathryn Welds | Curated Research and Commentary 
LinkedIn Open Group Psychology in Human Resources (Organisational Psychology)
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©Kathryn Welds


6 thoughts on “Leadership Qualities that Lead to the Corner Office?

  1. Jennifer Hartnett-Henderson

    Kathryn, thanks for this summary and particularly for summarizing the different advice the women might need to heed. Lois Frankel’s advice seems both approachable and achievable, measured and full of common sense. Thanks for introducing me to her! Jennifer

    1. kathrynwelds Post author

      Thank you for stopping by, Jennifer.

      Lois Frankel echoes advice from Olivia Fox Cabane to increase professional presence — charisma — by ensuring that statements end with a full-stop (period) instead of a question mark.

      This vocal “fix” enables anyone to avoid sounding like a “Valley Girl,” which both Frankel and Fox Cabane advise against.

      As you mention, this is an example of a specific, behavioral and implementable recommendation valuable for both women and men.

      *Kathryn Welds* welds@post.harvard.edu 650 740 0763 *LinkedIn | **Blog **|**Google+ ** |Twitter @kathrynwelds*

      On Sun, Feb 10, 2013 at 5:30 PM, Kathryn Welds |Curated Research and

  2. Allison O'Kelly

    This is a very insightful piece, Kathryn. Lois Frankel’s advice directed toward women seeking leadership roles is blunt and honest. She’s right—in order to achieve your professional goals, state and initiate a course of action rather than waiting on chance. The leadership qualities that you mentioned are not innate, and further, being an entrepreneur is not for everyone. When I decided to go out on my own, I knew there would be highs and lows, but it was this simple fact that kept me motivated: Being an entrepreneur is demanding at times and frequently stressful, but always rewarding. I believe this acknowledgement is crucial for any executive, aspiring leader, or for those who seek to achieve their biggest professional dreams. –Allison O’Kelly, founder/CEO of Mom Corps

    1. kathrynwelds Post author

      Thank you so much for your comment, Allison.
      I so appreciate your positive acknowledgement of the challenges and stresses of leadership and particularly entrepreneurship.
      Observers may simply see “success” and not fully appreciate the investments and compromises – sometimes steep – that all leaders and entrepreneurs can be called to make.
      Thank you for suggesting the intentional and effort and work that go into non-innate leadership qualities, and mentioning that the demands and stresses can be “re-framed” as motivators to persist.
      I needed this reminder today: Thank you, Allison, and thank you for the introduction to your work at Mom Corps.

  3. Pingback: Career Advancement as Contest – Tournament and How to Win | Kathryn Welds | Curated Research and Commentary

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