The 4 leadership behaviors that really matter

It includes seeking diverse perspectives and supporting others.

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January 30, 2015 |
Steven Burns
The 4 leadership behaviors that really matter McKinsey & Company

Using a comprehensive list of 20 distinct leadership traits, McKinsey surveyed 189,000 people in 81 diverse organizations around the world.

Recent research conducted by McKinsey & Company suggests that the secret to developing effective leaders is to encourage four types of behavior.

The findings reinforce the firm’s previous research, which has consistently shown that good leadership is a critical part of organizational health.

Using a comprehensive list of 20 distinct leadership traits, McKinsey surveyed 189,000 people in 81 diverse organizations around the world to assess how frequently certain kinds of leadership behavior are applied within their organizations.

Then researchers divided the sample into organizations whose leadership performance was strong and those that were weak.

The results revealed that leaders in organizations with high-quality leadership teams typically displayed the following four leadership behaviors:

  1. Solving problems effectively. The process that precedes decision-making is problem solving, when information is gathered, analyzed, and considered.
  2. Operating with a strong results orientation. Leadership is about not only developing and communicating a vision and setting objectives but also following through to achieve results.
  3. Seeking different perspectives. This trait is conspicuous in managers who monitor trends affecting organizations, grasp changes in the environment, encourage employees to contribute ideas that could improve performance, accurately differentiate between important and unimportant issues, and give the appropriate weight to stakeholder concerns.
  4. Supporting others. Leaders who are supportive understand and sense how other people feel. By showing authenticity and a sincere interest in those around them, they build trust and inspire and help colleagues to overcome challenges.

Read more from McKinsey Quarterly.

Steven Burns | The Business Behind Design

Steven Burns, FAIA spent 14 years managing the firm Burns + Beyerl Architects, and during that time the firm’s earnings grew at an average rate of 24% per year. After founding his own software company, Steve took his management expertise to BQE Software, where he is refining their business strategy and product development for the company’s groundbreaking project accounting solution, BQE Core.

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