When a CEO is fired or forced to resign, most people assume it’s due to their inability to boost the company’s bottom line. But a four-year study by online leadership training firm Leadership IQ shows that’s seldom the case.
Interviews with board members from 286 public and private businesses that ousted a CEO revealed that 31% were fired or forced out because of poor change management. Meanwhile, 28% were let go for ignoring customers, 27% for tolerating low performers, 23% for denying reality, and 22% for too much talk and not enough action.
So what are the leadership habits CEOs need to develop to be successful? Motivational speaker, business coach and author Mark Green says these are six vital ones:
1) Capitalize on luck. This is a habit of forward-moving thinking in response to both good- and bad-luck events. Green says bad luck, such as the extended absence of a key employee, affords an opportunity for the leader to empower others by challenging them to learn, grow and contribute in new ways.
2) Be grateful. “When you appreciate and value what you have, you gain a clearer perspective,” Green says. “A daily meeting ritual of appreciation creates space for each executive to share what they appreciate most, and it opens up the room to clearer thinking and increased collaboration.”
3) Give—within limits. “Sharing information and resources cultivates an abundance mindset, bringing benefits that both the company and the leader can reap,” Green says. “But there are limits; if you’re giving away too much time and too many resources, you won’t be able to accomplish your own objectives. Give, but know when to say no.”
4) When problems arise, focus on process—not people. When something goes wrong, a common approach is to find fault with the people involved. “But bad or poorly communicated processes can make even the most talented, dedicated staff look terrible,” Green says. “Question processes and communication first, before you explore the intentions, character or capabilities of those involved. Research shows that believing in your people pays off.”
5) Have high expectations of others. “Leaders who set the bar high and then give their teams latitude to execute reap more benefits than those who simply tell their teams what to do,” Green says. “Those whose habits include valuing autonomy and individual responsibility can build something great over time. High expectations and empowerment are key.”
6) Maintain intentional focus. “Countless research studies have exposed excessive multi-tasking as ineffective,” Green says. “To make real progress, hold a small number of very important things in your mind and let go of the rest. Ruthless prioritization and focus in execution will set you free.”