I started a discussion in one of my LinkedIn groups on globalization.  Specifically, I asked “If you could define in one word what the requirement is today for top leaders, what would that be?”  Here are the words that showed up more than once (in rank order) and some thoughts on each.

Top Leaders Global Requirement

1. Visionary. Groundbreaking thinkers place all the emphasis on their ideas, not on themselves. Visionaries can be good at persuasion, they transcend organizations, resources, and current realities, while at the same time as a top leader you’ll need to master them.  Take a look at Folio’s list of C-Level Visionaries: Top leadership driving business in surprising new directions.  It is a great example of top visionaries at work.

2. Listener.  The survey of 200 CEOs, carried out by Stanford University/The Miles Group and reported in Harvard Business Review, looked at the attitudes of CEOs and their boards of directors to receiving leadership advice and coaching.

Both the CEOs themselves, and their boards, rated listening skills third in a list of areas for development– well above persuasion, motivation and team-building skills.   And based on the need for this to be effective in our global marketplace, developing this skill even more is critical, now.

3. Truthfulness.  I don’t think there is anyone better then Jeff Immelt to weigh in here.  “I don’t think the people who work for you want you to be an optimist anymore,” says GE CEO Jeff Immelt. “They want you to be realistic. They don’t want hollow promises, they want action: What’s your plan, and how are you going to solve problems?”

The hallmarks of what Immelt calls “positive leadership” are authenticity, transparent communication, a focus on the future, and the ability to solve problems and take action.  In other words, truthfulness.

4.  Innovation.   There is no better way to comment on this then scanning the Top100Innovators list published by Thomson Reuters.  Simply put, look at the top leaders in any one of these winning companies, and there are leaders truly innovating.

5.  Imagination.  A leader who can vividly imagine and then amp that vision and project it onto the hearts of others can create movements that change the world.  Think Martin Luther King, Jr., Steve Jobs, and Malala Yousafzai.

What Can You Do?

There were many other contributions including flexibility, strategic, adaptability and integrity, all worthy in the global marketplace.  But, if you are a top leader, and have to choose – stick with the 5 I have listed.  Incorporate them and consistently practice each in how you lead, daily.  That will make a very interesting world to live  and work in.


As the CEO & Founder of East Tenth Group, Michelle leverages 25 years of business and experience as a strategic advisor and executive coach to help drive actionable people solutions and provide practical insights on business strategy to senior leaders. she and her team and are fiercely committed to the development and growth of people and companies because we believe that when people thrive, business thrives.

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