Jerry S. Wilson: Lead with IMPACT

In today's business world, what makes a good leader? Every leader brings his or her unique brand of leadership to each business situation, yet there are common traits that differentiate effective leaders from all others. These high-impact leaders establish a "Brand Identity," which is respected by employees, customers, suppliers, and shareowners. They become a magnet for great talent and are sought-after for the most important assignments. These effective leaders have a proven ability to rally their organization behind a common cause and convert challenges into opportunities. Their consistent grace under pressure can be mistakenly interpreted as a natural-born gift, when, in fact, there are common traits that are actually learned over time. How do certain leaders seem to always have the capacity and capability to rise to whatever situation is thrown their way? Such leaders have established six core traits that equip them to be well-prepared for the challenges of today and tomorrow. They are leaders who make a real impact. In fact, the keys to leadership success can be described in a simple acronym: IMPACT. Characteristics of effective leaders are: I – Inclusivity M – Mentorship P – Pragmatism A – Adaptability C – Curiosity T – Transparency Not only do high-impact leaders represent positive impact to the organization today, but they also are committed to laying the foundation for the future. They are seen as great people developers who have a firm grasp on growing the business. Fortunately, any leader has the potential to be a high-impact one by adopting and fine-tuning these traits. Leaders who complement these characteristics with their own brand of authenticity set themselves apart from others and create a reputation for consistent delivery even in the most challenging market conditions. InclusivityHigh-impact leaders recognize the power of others and have the savvy to realize they do not have all the answers. They create a team of people from varying backgrounds and experiences who bring differing perspectives. Inclusive leaders establish various methods to leverage the collective genius represented by this diversity. This is not to say these leaders abdicate their own accountability, but their overall approach is one of inclusivity. From these broad points of view come higher-level discussion, debate, and ultimately an action plan that is well-informed. Inclusive leaders work to create a diverse team and not a group of like-minded individuals. MentorshipHigh-impact leaders always find time to mentor others. Whether in individual sessions or group forums, they accept the responsibility to groom the next generation of up-and-coming leaders. Mentorship becomes part of the culture of the business, setting the tone and standard of excellence that becomes expected across the organization. Such a genuine care for others is seen by the organization as a commitment to the future of the enterprise. Mentoring leaders have a true open-door policy and do not hesitate to share their experiences and insight. PragmatismEffective leaders are very clear that they are "running a business." This is where the power of management principles is so important. Pragmatic leaders understand the business, focus on customer satisfaction, and expect high performance from themselves and their people. Leaders with pragmatism instill confidence in people and are clear on the performance expectations. Pragmatic leaders are decision-makers who have a grip on the real drivers of business success. These people may have grown up in the industry or just joined a startup firm, but they all realize the necessity of studying the business metrics, establishing business routines, and reporting on the progress of the organization. Pragmatic leaders are able to simplify complexity and shift into the action quickly. AdaptabilityLeaders who make an impact are always assessing the changing landscape of business. While these skilled leaders are committed to strategic planning and minimizing the impact of the unexpected, they are quick to adapt and move forward. They understand that nothing is constant except change, and while other leaders are trying to "explain" the market modifications, adaptable leaders are quick to accept these realities and encourage their people to do the same. Through their aggressive adaptability they actually take the challenges and turn them into opportunities. This important skill is supported by a perpetual business dashboard mentality that allows adaptable leaders to see things others miss. We can see examples of this today as leaders from the print news industry adjust to the realities of the digital age. CuriosityWe've all experienced those inquisitive leaders who are always questioning the status quo. They ask questions that make others think more deeply and develop concepts to a more thorough level. These leaders have a constant curiosity about viewing situations from multiple aspects. Through this questioning mindset, they establish a culture of ensuring that all voices are heard and that there are no sacred cows. "What if we tried this? How can we improve that? Where is the best practice for such a predicament?" Leaders who are curious and use questioning techniques generally get the best from their organizations and shorten the timeline to success. Curious leaders push their organizations ahead of the curve by consistently questioning "business as usual." TransparencyEmployees are smart. They know when leaders are being straight and when they are hiding something. Say what you mean and deliver against expectations. When times get tough, leaders must come clean with their people and communicate with transparency. If an organization is downsizing or must cut costs, it is better for the leader to lay it out clearly, quickly, and honestly. Transparent leaders are capable of communicating clearly, setting out a simple plan of action, and moving forward. Today's business environment requires leaders to be many things from consultant to psychologist. Yet, high-impact leaders have mastered certain skills that can be learned by any individual in business and industry. While the challenges are high, the rewards are even greater. Such leaders create a respected personal brand identity that inspires an organization to rally to the challenges it may face in the marketplace. Choose to implement these six traits and you, too, can become a high-impact leader through building and bettering your "Brand You."

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