EPMEPM: Leadership

Why EQ triumphs over IQ

Twenty years ago, leadership was largely grounded in experience and expertise – but today the best leaders seem to score stronger when it comes to EQ. Rockend CEO Alister Maple-Brown explains.

Being a leader often meant you had to be the smartest person in the room or the person with the most grey hairs. But things have changed.

Importantly, strong leadership can be the difference between a thriving and successful business, and one that suffers under the pressures of disruptive change. So what does it take to be a successful leader in the 21st century

Drawing from a background of transformative business leadership that few can emulate, Stephen Scheeler, the former Managing Director of Facebook’s Australian and New Zealand business, boils it down to eight key attributes.

1. Vision

The most effective leaders dare to dream. When it comes to business, your agency’s vision is its bedrock. It’s the solid thing your team can count on, no matter how much technology, products or services shift and change.

2. Humility

Strong leaders are humble. All too often a lack of humility can manifest itself as arrogance or hubris. You can’t be an effective leader if you feel you’re better than your subordinates.

3. Curiosity

To truly be a successful leader, you need to turn on your curiosity. The key is to never stop seeking out opportunities to learn.

4. Transparency

Transparent leaders have no hidden agenda. Their mantra of transparency permeates their being in every situation. First and foremost, they’re truthful with themselves and don’t use whatever shade of truth that works best at the time. Rather, they adhere always to only one shade of truth: the most accurate and complete truth to the best of their knowledge.

When it comes to your customers, you need to be hungry for change – not afraid of it.

5. Adaptability

Adapting to change is a leadership imperative. The formula that got you to where you are today likely won’t be enough to take you to the next level. As a leader, you need to be flexible and adaptable, steering and responding to change, as well as helping others face it and adapt. But mere adaptability is not enough. Leaders need to adapt quickly and proactively if they want to stay ahead.

6. Data dexterity

Effective leaders in today’s market need to use the technology and data available to them to make smarter, more strategic decisions. After all, if you aren’t using today’s data, it will be even more difficult to adapt to tomorrow’s.

7. Customer obsession

Leaders need to be obsessed with finding the absolute best technology, products and services to keep their customers happy and engaged. When it comes to your customers, you need to be hungry for change – not afraid of it.

8. Speed

Too many businesses today move too slowly. As a leader, you need to think about time as a scarce resource that you need to measure, conserve, enrich and optimise.

Meeting the challenge in an age of disruptive change, today’s leaders are under a huge amount of pressure. Unfortunately, many leaders put too much focus on the technologies behind digital disruption, when they should also be addressing these fundamental leadership skills.

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