1) Are you self-aware?
Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. We can all improve, and we should embrace cultures of continuous learning. But top leaders cannot allow weak spots to be blind spots. We all need an accurate perspective of what we do well and where we need work. You can’t lead credibly without it.
2)Are you committed to the company/organization; do they drive change?
Senior leadership positions are tough jobs and we live in hyper-competitive times. Success requires real effort, and at the senior levels of a company like GE the ability to drive change distinguishes you. It’s not easy and you have to be stubborn; you have to be resilient. After all, every idea begins with a constituency of one. There’s probably one or two times a year that I turn to our very top leaders and say, “we’re going to do it my way.” Do that too often and good people will leave. But if you never do it, nothing ever happens. Trust your instinct (and make sure you have the right instincts).
3) Are you a “giver or a taker?”
Just as the best leaders need to go with their gut, they must also be responsive to those around them. They realize that open, respectful, transparent conflict is a hallmark of great companies. Top leaders must also give back to the culture to make it meaningful and lasting. Build a WE not a ME organization. You have to inspire people. An idea or initiative may start with that constituency of one, but eventually you need buy-in from a company of many (about 300,000, in fact, at GE).
4) Are you a critical thinker?
It is easy to follow the crowd and allow the status quo. It is also the way companies and organizations get in trouble. The very best leaders avoid “group think.” Instead, they look at challenges through different lenses and from different perspectives. They understand context and have a strategic sense of how to put things where they fit both within the organization and in the world. As a matter of imperative, the top leaders know how to simplify. This might be the most important leadership trait of our time. The very best leaders cut through the complexity. Every process drives speed and accountability. They get results.
5) Lastly, do you have a dream for themselves and the company?
Good leaders have passion. They have a vision. They think and dream big.
At GE, we view leadership development as integral to our culture and our future. We try to create global leaders, people who can navigate the complexity of our times with clarity, courage and integrity. I believe we have a pretty good track record. Dennis Dammerman was proof of that. But I also know we don’t have all the answers.
What attributes do you look for in a top leader?
Credit for this article goes to Jeff Immelt http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20130820120007-230929989-5-ways-to-spot-top-leaders