Are You A Leader We Can Bank On?

Focus on the jockey as much as the horse

“Focus on the jockey as much as the horse. Or, if racing eludes you, bet on the head coach…would you feel confident investing your hard-earned money on a legal bet this weekend on a team in the NFL without researching or knowing the history of the coach of that team?” – Jim Cramer

We’ve written about the five common mistakes we see CEOs make, and it’s also interesting to look at the opposite angle – who is leading well.

After reading an interview in last Sunday’s newspaper with Jim Cramer, the host of CNBC’s Mad Money, about his new book, I had to find out who he identified as the 21 “bankable” CEOs – and why.

Almost all 21 have a communications tie-in, and they are in line with how we coach many of our CEO clients.

Whatever our role, we should always be mindful of ways to increase our leadership.

Here are four traits of “bankable” leaders that are worth adopting:

Engender Trust.

The most important element of leadership is trust. Trust will help you weather the storm, as Cramer describes of Howard Schultz’ leadership and recent turn around at Starbucks. Almost everything he says he will do – he does. Even in the face of doubt, he has delivered results from Europe to China. Whether this is integrity or follow through, it breeds trust. Named as one of our Top Ten Communicators of 2011, Schultz is a role model for how to engender trust.

The “Get It” Factor.

We look for the “Get It” factor in all levels of hiring here at Decker, but it’s an essential element for leaders everywhere. It’s kind of like the “X-Factor,” but instead of measuring how much you stand out, it measures the way you relate to others. How do you demonstrate that you get it? By focusing on your listener. What do they need, what do they want? That’s what you need to tell them. Bankable leader Ron Shaich of Panera Bread appealed to youth by understanding that natural and organic was important to them. It’s paid off in customers and loyalty.

Create a Shared Vision.

True influence – and power – stems from creating a shared vision. One of the best in business today is Alan Mulally. We recognized him as one of our Top Ten Communicators of 2013 for translating his results into actions. And according to Cramer, “as long as Alan is running Ford” – it’s worth it as “a core investment.” Talk about trusting the jockey. 

Give (and get) Balanced Feedback.

Sharing critical feedback in a way that left him feeling empowered instead of deflated was one of the ways Bob Iger of Disney left a lasting impression on Cramer. Strengthening your team’s weaknesses while recognizing what they are doing well creates results. Neither Iger nor Decker originated the idea of balanced feedback, but you will always see a benefit from sharing 3×3, or balanced feedback.

We can all learn from these best practices – even if you’re not a CEO. Use these tips to increase your influence because we all want to be bankable.

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