What traits are key for successful leadership? (Part two)

What leadership traits can get executives to the top of the corporate ladder?

In part one, we detailed a number of traits identified as crucial for leadership success by executives and other business experts such as Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford, author and business consultant Peter Economy, Insureon CEO Ted Devine and Skybox Imaging CEO Tom Ingersoll. In part two, we add a few more voices to the conversation.

Bill Gates
As the co-founder, former chairman and former CEO of Microsoft, Bill Gates was once again named the richest person in the world in 2015 – proof positive that this Harvard University dropout knows something about business. For Gates, leadership is as much about inspiring and cultivating success in others as it is about realizing personal and corporate achievements. Quoted by Entrepreneur, Gates once said the following about the future of leadership: “As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.”

“Taking time to empower employees doesn’t have to cost a penny.”

Gates has applied this idea in both the personal and professional aspects of his life, going as far as to create a private grant-making nonprofit organization – the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – with his wife. Of course, most leaders’ pockets aren’t even remotely as deep as Gates’, but taking time out of one’s day to empower and inspire employees doesn’t have to cost a penny.

Daniel Goleman, author and psychologist
Earlier this year, we reported on research that revealed many executives lack emotional intelligence, also known as EQ. Daniel Goleman, co-director of the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations at Rutgers University and the father of EQ concept, asserted in an article for the Harvard Business Review that without a strong EQ, “a person can have the best training in the world, an incisive, analytical mind and an endless supply of smart ideas, but he still won’t make a great leader.”

As Goleman explained, EQ is made up of five components: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skill. Leaders who aren’t in tune with the feelings and needs of both themselves and others are unlikely to excel within their roles.

Howard Schultz
For Starbucks founder, chairman and CEO Howard Schultz, a strong vision was at the core of his leadership success. Today, Starbucks has a global presence, but before Schultz even opened up shop at the company’s first location in Seattle’s Pike Place Market, he had a dream.

“I think if you’re an entrepreneur, you’ve got to dream big and then dream bigger,” he said, quoted by Forbes. “It’s seeing what other people don’t see and pursuing that vision.”

We’ve discussed the importance of building a strong corporate culture in numerous articles over the years, underscoring the idea that a cohesive set of company values and a clear mission statement can go a long way. Today, Starbucks employs thousands of people in countries across the world, all of whom are united in pursuing the goals of Schultz’s vision, including diversity, sustainability and professional ethics.

Starbucks is the product of CEO Howard Schultz's vision.
Starbucks is the product of CEO Howard Schultz’s vision.

Steve Jobs
One of the most legendary leaders of modern times, the late Apple co-founder, chairman and CEO Steve Jobs believed passion was the key to successful leadership.

“You have to be burning with an idea or a problem or a wrong that you want to right,” he once said, as quoted by Forbes. “If you’re not passionate enough from the start, you’ll never stick it out.”

Andrew Carnegie, whose list of 31 traits for great leadership was summarized by Business Insider and detailed in the first part of this article, also believed passion could set apart the best from the rest. Carnegie noted that the most effective leaders are able to channel their passion into an energy that motivates and drives other members of their organizations toward success.

About Caldwell Partners
Caldwell Partners is a leading international provider of executive search and has been for more than 45 years. As one of the world’s most trusted advisors in executive search, the firm has a sterling reputation built on successful searches for boards, chief and senior executives, and selected functional experts. With offices and partners across North America, Europe, Latin America and Asia Pacific, the firm takes pride in delivering an unmatched level of service and expertise to its clients.