Do You Have What It Takes as A Leader?

A recent study by the Army War College looked at highly regarded major generals in Iraq for leadership qualities.  Subordinates rated leaders anonymously.  The results were, in order of importance:

  1. Keeps cool under pressure.
  2. Clearly explains missions, standards and priorities.
  3. Sees the big picture; provides context and perspective.
  4. Makes tough, sound decisions on time.

However, the study also showed that even when tactical and technical competence skills were excellent, interpersonal skills were critical.  One of the authors of the study retired Gen. Walter Ulmer said, “One thing we found is that it’s easier to teach technical skills than to teach people how to gain trust and build teams.”  Ulmer also noted that many key behaviors are learned by example, so good leaders tend to produce more good leaders.  Other valued qualities found in the study included:

  • Adapts quickly to new situations; can handle bad news.
  • Gives useful feedback; sets a high ethical tone.
  • Is positive, encouraging and realistically optimistic.