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After 50 Interviews With Different Leaders: This Is What Exceptional  Managers Have in Common
June 9, 2022

What do effective leaders have in common? Are they good with numbers, marketing, culture development, vision, or structure? Yes, perhaps, but if you ask me, who has interviewed 50 different leaders, some fundamental characteristics are far more important. Here are some of my top suggestions for those who are always striving to learn more.

As many of you are aware, I am the founder and CEO of the marketing agency NoordMarketing, which owns Advedro and a number of other products. I have also interviewed leaders and experts for our blog, Topicster, and I am the host of the podcast, Marketing Unfiltered, which I co-host with my partner Kj Rocker. All the experiences and pieces of knowledge that I have accumulated over the years I bring with me to my own CEO role, and I share them in chronicles, my own blog, a popular newsletter, various interviews, and, of course, the podcast, which you are welcome to start listening to.

Curiosity, or as I usually say – still having a childlike mind- is a common success factor and one of the characteristics of many of the leaders I’ve interviewed. Exceptional leaders approach the subject or task as if they are completely unfamiliar with it. In the beginner’s mind, there are only opportunities, but in the expert’s mind, there are obstacles – and it is precisely for this reason that you must never lose the child’s mind.

I’m frequently asked how I manage to podcast, write, and be the CEO all at the same time. I usually respond that the question is incorrectly stated. I do it to learn more and to constantly evolve, which I believe is necessary for NoordMarketing to succeed. An organization is only as strong as its leadership can be, and if we do not grow, we risk being wound up.

Another characteristic is the willingness to change that I have seen in many talented leaders when I have been interviewing them. Rather than being the best, many of them understand the importance of adaptability in a constantly changing world. And the world has never been more volatile than it is right now, something that every leader should realize. 

Willingness to change fundamentally in order to succeed in digitalization

It is the theory of evolution that can be applied to business development, and digitalization is at the heart of the change that the world is currently experiencing. Technology changes the way we do business, travel, meet, shop, and entertain ourselves. It happens so quickly and frequently that it is critical to adapt or someone else will do it first and you will lose your market positioning. 

So, how do other leaders stay current and keep their minds open to change? There is usually only one answer here, and that is constant monitoring of the outside world. And the recipe calls for at least 30 minutes per day.

Start with a newsletter

Listen to a podcast, read books, articles, or anything else that will keep you alert. Every month, I send out a newsletter in which I summarize my thoughts on leadership, marketing, and what’s going on in the world of technology. Today, several thousand people subscribe to the newsletter, and if I may say so, it is a good shortcut to the most relevant news in our industry right now.

To summarize, what do great leaders have in common? What are the characteristics of great leaders? In a nutshell, they are authentic. They are all attempting to build relationships based on honesty and an ethical foundation. They are candid about their beliefs, ideas, thoughts, and feelings, while they all are attempting to lead with an open heart.

The most astute leaders go above and beyond. They are not only fixated on execution but they are also fixated on the results that execution can bring. A plan can be followed to the letter and still fail to produce the desired results. However, leadership is all about getting things done. The best leaders are laser-focused on delivering consistently high-quality results. Leaders who excel in this area are constantly aware of their commitment to performance and the promises they’ve made to their stakeholders. Every effort they make is directed toward keeping that promise.

We are all living in an unprecedented period of business and life. Employees face uncertainty at times when businesses are struggling worldwide, and nothing can be taken for granted.

But it’s important to remember that success comes from overcoming obstacles. There are small and midsize business owners and CEOs who are stepping up to help one another, reinforce the values that have made their companies successful, and serve those who are unable to operate due to circumstances beyond their control. Don’t be afraid to share your story, there are others that might need to hear it now more than ever.