Who are your company leaders? The answer might surprise you

Titles do not a leader make, but these qualities do

Successful, growth-oriented companies find that progress brings rewards and new challenges. Attracting and retaining talent is critical to success. How do companies create an environment where employees are happy and engaged, even in a fast-paced, high-pressure environment?  

I have spent my career in this type of environment, and one important company attribute stands out to me: leadership. Leadership is extremely important to the success of an organization, while a lack in leadership within an organization only exacerbates a high-stress environment and is detrimental to employee satisfaction and retention.

If leadership is so important, ask yourself, who would you define as a leader? Would it be the person at in the position of most authority, or the person who manages the most people? Would it be the person moving at the fastest pace up the corporate ladder?  Would it be a CEO or the newest team members?

Many people would define leadership similarly to the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of leadership, “as having the power or ability to lead other people”. However, I have observed that the answer is not quite that black and white. The answer to all of the above questions could be either yes or no, but is entirely dependent on the characteristics an individual possesses rather than the role they have within the organization.

More often than not, when people think of the leadership within an organization, they automatically focus on only those in a management role while discounting those who do not hold a management job title. The inherent flaw with that mindset is the assumption that once an individual attains that coveted management job title, they are also automatically bestowed with amazing leadership capabilities. In reality, many of an organization's strongest leaders are those outside of management.

So how do successful companies avoid this common flaw in thinking? They focus on the people, not the title, and realize that the best assets of their organization are their leaders, regardless of level. This focus on people inevitably leads to an organizational strategy of helping their leaders flourish through coaching and training and encouraging those people to lead with confidence. 

The next logical question to ask is, how should you go about identifying the leaders within your firm? Those with the strongest leadership potential will embody most, if not all, of the following traits:  

Team Driven: A leader has the view that when a project goes well it was because of the team, and when it doesn’t go well it was the leader’s fault for not adapting/adjusting when the project was faltering. This drives a culture of inclusion on success and eliminating pointing the finger when something goes wrong.

Open to Feedback: A leader not only appreciates feedback but enjoys being challenged by the people above and below them. They see this as an opportunity to get better and deliver the best product regardless of where the feedback is coming from.

Admits Mistakes: A leader is willing to admit their mistakes. They learn from their mistakes and rather than dwelling on them, apply what they have learned as they move forward.    

Recognize Others: A leader will go out of their way to recognize others for work well done. They value the contributions of others and make it a priority for their team to know.

Development Focused: A leader understands the value and need for development of the people below them.  They don’t see this as a burden, but as a necessity and an integral part of their job responsibility and long term success of the firm  

Results Focused: A leader wants to produce the best deliverable possible. If it doesn’t go well, there is reflection and constructive coaching on how it could have gone better.

Drive to be Better: A leader is never complacent with their ability in leading others or in their ability to do their own job. They are always striving to improve, learn, and adapt to the changing environment around them.

Genuine and sincere: A leader genuinely cares about the people they work with and invest time and effort into their success. They work hard at making sure that the people they work with are happy, challenged and growing in their career.

They Enjoy it:  A leader enjoys their role and embraces the pressure of leading. They thrive on the challenge of leading others.

These traits are consistent in leaders across generations. There seems to be a common misconception today that leadership traits are somehow tied to or vary according to the generation of an individual. Contrary to that belief, in my experience, whether an identified leader is a millennial or a baby boomer, they will possess a majority, if not all, of these traits. This observation has led me to the conclusion that leadership potential transcends generations and is rather something that is either inherently part of or not part of an employee’s skill set.

In my personal experience within a fast-paced and growing organization, the best leaders I have worked with in my career have embodied these attributes. You may also be surprised that the leaders I mention are not necessarily those above me, but rather, peers, newer staff and others not yet in a management role. 

(Editor's note: This sponsored content was provided by ACM.)

Bryan Adam is a Tax Director in ACM’s Denver Office.  He can be reached at 303.830.1120 or badam@acmllp.com

ACM is a full service public accounting firm headquartered in Denver, Colorado with offices in Northern Colorado, Boulder and Laramie, WY. ACM provides audit, tax and consulting services to the Rocky Mountain Region’s entrepreneurial and middle market companies along with their owners, as well as public sector and philanthropic organizations. www.acmllp.com  

Categories: Company Perspectives, Sponsored Content