The 7 Abilities Leaders Must Have

18 Jun

7 High Performance Abilites

It is safe to say that the first test of a leader is to deliver results – “deliver what you promise.” After all leadership is not judged by what you say instead it is judged by what you do. If we agree to the above hypothesis, then the next question is, therefore what are the abilities required by a leader to “deliver what she promises?”
The answer is – there are 7 abilities, but before I rattle them off, let me give some context to it through 2 immutable facts of high performing organizations:

Fact 1: all business exist to grow in value over time. Call it enterprise value, shareholder value, whatever but the underpinning raison d’etre of a buinsess is to grow.
Implied in the notion of growth are 2 laws –  the law of continuos change and  the law of rising targets. Einstein once said  “insanity is to keep doing the same things, expecting a different result.” So growth by definition means continuously doing things differently  – which means continuos change and growth by definition means setting higher and higher goals, which means rising targets.

Fact 2: all businesses that grow – at a very micro level have 1 common trait. They are  continuously innovating, looking at results and thinking about those results. They then experiment to try and see if they can produce results faster, better and cheaper. They then reflect on their experiment results and once satisfied, they act on it or implement it.  Then the cycle starts all over again. This virtuous cycle of Think->Experiment->Reflect->Act over and over and over and over again is what makes good companies, great. Its as simple as that.

Implied in the notion of continuously innovating in this virtuous cycle is the capacity for thinking,  measuring and implementing. So from the 2 immutable fact of high performing organizations, we distill out the 7 High Performance Abilites as follows:

The 7 Abilities:

1. Ability to Think: As funny as this may seem, because of conditioning we struggle to think beyond our normal thinking patterns.  Thinking in its most basic form is  the ability to link cause and effect, a step higher is the ability to connect unrelated events and the highest from is philosophy. High Performing Managers deliver on their promises by out thinking the competition.

2. Ability to Count: Here is another one that seems so obvious because who cannot count? Well, lots of managers do struggle with numbers, not the quantity but the quality of it. They will say things like lets grow sales by 10% (quantity) but fail to grasp what it will really takes to do 10% (quality). High Performing Managers have an ability to add quality to their numbers and through that understand exactly how they will leverage their organization to deliver as promised.

3. Ability to Communicate: Communications is the ability to get an idea across. and to leverage your resources you need to communicate. High Performing Managers know that communications is not about the ability to talk but the about the ability to get people to act on what is said.

4. Ability to Lead: Leading means getting your people organized, pointing them in the right direction, motivating them, developing team capabilities, coaching and engendering a can do spirit. High Performing Managers are able to to get seemingly ordinary employees to produce extraordinary results.

5. Ability to Drive Change: The definition of insanity is to keep doing the same things, but expecting a different result. High Performing Managers are adept at getting their people to continuously do things differently to produce better resutls.

6. Ability to Manage for Performance: Managing for Performance mindset that ensures every member of the team “delivers as promised.” High Performing Managers know how to manage their people for results.

7. Ability to Deliver Results: Ultimately its all about results. High Performing Managers  have a mindset that nothing is impossible and everything is possible.  The use the 6 above mentioned capabilities  to achieve the 7th.  High Performing Managers are driven by the goal.

Look at your managers and objectively assesses each one against the above 7 abilities. If they have it, then your organization is safe, if they don’t then you need to help them acquire the 7 abilities, after which your organization will never be the same again.  See how we help clients develop these 7 abilities (click here).

Please share with me your thoughts..


Posted by on June 18, 2009 in Business, General


3 responses to “The 7 Abilities Leaders Must Have

  1. Abdurahman

    June 19, 2009 at 12:40 am

    What an interesting post, but according to my experience, there’s some cultural things that we need to build. lucky you are living in US so you’re having as many as good individual out there. but if you’re looking on a third world countries, it’s very difficult to lead & make your members to initiate something.

    However, i believed that a good leader is an individual that can think about what other people’s think. and motivate them to follow his order.. 🙂

    • mindspring

      June 19, 2009 at 9:10 am

      Assalamualaikum Abdurahman,

      What makes you think I am living in the US?

      I have been working, living and breath the polluted air of a Kuala Lumpur for the last 19 years.

      I have worked with so many Malaysian organizations and believe it or not – despite what they say about culture etc… as soon as they embrace the 7 principles they fly. What I must point out is that in every instance this has happened, the organization always had a CEO who was humble and full of humility and willing to learn. Maybe that is the real breakthrough.

      Thanks for commenting.

  2. Abdurahman

    June 19, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    Waalaikum salam..

    Oh, I thought you’re living in US, i go to your blog from my wordpress dashboard and look at the interesting topics.

    So, we both living in KL. But the differences is you’re professional & i’m just a foreign student here. I refer to my experience while working on some group project. Both in college assignment and in student organisations.Plus i make some cultural review here in malaysia.

    the organization always had a CEO who was humble and full of humility and willing to learn. Maybe that is the real breakthrough.

    i agreed with your statements.


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