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What You Need to Know About Leadership

What You Need to Know About Leadership

Article by Jason Taylor

Executive Summary

Since the inception of business, organizations have searched for clues to help identify and select successful leaders. They have searched for men and women of vision with that rare combination of traits that help them serve as motivator, business driver, and authority figure. The concept of leadership has been widely observed and frequently studied, but a thorough understanding of what defines successful leadership has always remained just out of reach.I wanted to find the answer(s) to the age-old question, "What makes a great leader?" After studying the behavioral attributes of thousands of business leaders, the resulting data could reveal commonalities that define strong leadership. What similar patterns or behaviors might possibly be found over and over again? By forming a concise "leadership recipe," the never-ending search for quality leaders could finally be simplified to a standardized set of characteristics that might help predict successful leadership in any organization.

I centered my investigation on 30 behavioral leadership models that were used across 24 unique companies encompassing 4,512 business leaders from all performance levels. These companies included several from the Fortune 500 list. Each of the 30 leadership models was analyzed to identify the most common behaviors that differentiate higher-performing leaders from low-performing leaders. The findings compiled from this data set revealed new evidence that must serve as a foundational piece of every leadership hiring or training endeavor.

Expectations of the Study

Leadership is a concept that is difficult to capture. You know it when you see it, but it is difficult to quantify. The components of leadership are often examined and observed, but the ability to predict successful leadership has thus far avoided the confines of a repeatable recipe. Many approaches have been used in an attempt to document commonalities among successful leaders, but only with mixed results at best. Taking a new approach to the issue, I set out to study the behavioral characteristics of successful leaders in comparison to leaders of lower performance levels. The two main objectives of this study were: