We all know that having great leaders is a critical piece of success for all organizations. However, less clear are the behaviors great leaders engage in that others do not. For that reason, we designed a research program to shed some light on this question. We had access to interesting behavioral criteria.
First, we were given permission to access an organization’s Success Coach feedback system. This system allows individuals to request feedback on various components of their job or work. For example, if someone delivered a presentation, they could leave the meeting and immediately send a feedback request to the meetings’ members to ask for information regarding how well they did on that specific presentation. Having this type of access to real-time feedback is important and useful for continued growth and development of both leaders and their subordinates.
Second, we had access to data related to an organization’s internal social networking system. The purpose of these systems is to increase engagement and facilitate networking, interest groups, and information sharing among employees. Some of the activities that the system includes consist of creating posts, replying to others’ posts, sending messages, joining groups, following others, and being followed by others.
What we found was quite interesting. We found that high performing leaders…
Asked for more feedback
Provided more feedback to others
Posted more to social media
Have more followers
I think the last finding is particularly interesting. True leaders actually have followers – and not just people who have a direct reporting relationship.
So, what do great leaders do differently than others? For one, they want to obtain an accurate view of their skills and capabilities by requesting feedback from others. It appears to be important to them to obtain such information so they can use it to continue to develop themselves as leaders within the organization. Continued improvement of themselves will transfer into better outcomes for the organization in the long run as their leaders continue to develop.
Secondly, they find value in providing this type of feedback to others as well. They are willing to provide feedback on someone’s good or bad performance even when the employee does not ask for it. It appears that they have the organization’s best interests in mind because they are allocating effort to developing individuals below them as well as themselves. Again these actions will likely translate into positive outcomes for the organization by having more well-rounded and self-aware employees.
Finally, they care about engagement and information sharing and go out of their way to interact with others through formal and less formal methods, such as the social networking system. Clearly, all of these efforts do not go unnoticed as many members within the organization are taking note and keeping these great leaders on their radar.
In sum, hiring great leaders can have a significant impact on the outcomes that organizations observe. To ensure you are hiring great leaders it is necessary to put extra effort into identifying and selecting those that have the most potential to succeed.
To read more of our research on this topic, click the button below to download our whitepaper, Great Leaders: What They Do Differently.