What Trait Do You Look for in Your Leadership Team as a Chief Executive Officer?

What Trait Do You Look for in Your Leadership Team as a Chief Executive Officer?

In the quest for exceptional leadership, we've gathered insights from top executives on the one trait they hold in highest regard. From a CMO's perspective on prioritizing lifelong learning to a CEO's observation of trust among leaders, explore the four indispensable qualities these professionals seek in their leadership teams.

  • Prioritize Lifelong Learning
  • Seek Compatibility in Management
  • Value Executive Team Autonomy
  • Observe Trust Among Leaders

Prioritize Lifelong Learning

In evaluating the core qualities essential within my leadership team, the trait I prioritize above all others is an unwavering commitment to lifelong learning. This characteristic stands as a linchpin, influencing every facet of their professional demeanor—from the strategies they employ in leadership, through the methodologies they adopt for business expansion, to the effectiveness of their communication.

Embracing lifelong learning signifies a profound understanding that growth and development are perpetual journeys, not finite goals. Leaders who embody this trait naturally foster environments of innovation, adaptability, and resilience. They navigate challenges with a forward-thinking mindset, always seeking knowledge that can transform obstacles into opportunities.

Moreover, this dedication to continuous improvement catalyzes a culture of curiosity and openness within the organization, encouraging teams to pursue excellence and embrace change with enthusiasm. In essence, valuing lifelong learning within my leadership team is not merely a preference; it is a strategic imperative that propels the entire business forward, ensuring we remain at the forefront of our industry, ever-evolving and ever-growing.

Rob Burke
Rob BurkeCMO, DonorDock

Seek Compatibility in Management

Compatibility is the most important thing to consider when you're adding to your management team.

At Pender & Howe, we place executives daily, so we know the value of finding the right person for the role.

But this isn't always obvious from a resume.

Recently, we were looking to hire a manager, and it came down to two candidates. Both looked amazing on paper and had the skills and experience required to lead a team.

But in the end, neither was hired.

It had nothing to do with their work ethic or abilities. They were fantastic employees. The problem was more vague: neither truly clicked with our existing leadership. It was just a matter of personality. Finding people who work well together is more art than science, and forcing a connection will never be effective.

So we kept looking, confident that finding a compatible worker was worth the extra time and effort.

Travis Hann
Travis HannPartner, Pender & Howe

Value Executive Team Autonomy

I have long said that my core business strategy is the continued alchemy of my Executive Team. When the team is clear, working collectively, and understands our shared values, I’m able to step out of their jobs and give them full autonomy to lead the company. This has been the fastest path as a CEO working on my business, not in my business. I am keenly aware of my 'highest and best use' and stay there as often as possible. A fabulous Exec Team makes all the difference in that pursuit.

Brea Starmer
Brea StarmerCEO/Founder, Lions & Tigers

Observe Trust Among Leaders

How they talk about each other when they are not there is revealing. We work with a lot of leadership teams, and we observe them in meetings together and how they work as a team. It's important to observe, reflect back, and challenge them on how they can improve. Equally important is how they talk to each other when they are alone or just a few of them, because it is in those moments where you understand if they trust each other. Great teams are built on trust. For example, does Michael say about Rose, 'She's always late to every meeting,' or 'You can always rely on Rose to turn up on time'? In those moments, you can tell a lot about the team's performance. Trust is an equation of four parts: reliability, credibility, intimacy, and self-orientation. Leadership teams need to understand this equation and openly share where their weaknesses are. Why do they not have reliability or one of the other parts? And how do they improve that together? This is how leadership teams become high-performing leadership teams.

Darren Smith
Darren SmithCEO, MBM

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