Secrets of Effective Leaders

What makes an effective leader?


Achieveforum’s four decades of work with business leaders in hundreds of organizations across the globe reveals that the development of leaders at all levels in organizations should focus on specific areas to drive effectiveness, agility, and strategy execution now and in the future.

Based on our research, four specific targets of focus, including: Direction and Alignment, Commitment and Capability, Execution and Performance, and Personal Mastery, help build a better leader, which in turn results in a more efficient organization overall.

We refer to these four areas of excellence as the Work of Leaders model. We believe this model can be applied to multi-level leaders across a number of organizations.

The Work of Leaders Model


Personal Mastery. Leaders must know and manage their strengths and their weaknesses, and demonstrate strong interpersonal skills and a high degree of emotional intelligence. Moreover, highly successful leaders communicate effectively with a wide range of stakeholders, continuously test and learn from their own assumptions, and have the adaptability and agility to handle the pace and stress today’s work world puts in their paths.

Direction and Alignment. This is about creating confidence in others to be followers. Leaders must continuously stay in front of changes in the business environment, setting direction and quickly aligning the organization with that direction. They must synchronously and constantly adapt and change.

Commitment and Capability. Most organizations today compete on knowledge. This means the only way to build commitment and capability in their people is to engage employees in three ways: heads, hands, and hearts. Leaders must create work environments that engage, encourage a sense of ownership, and accelerate learning and development. Today’s leaders are more involved than ever in teaching, coaching, and creating growth opportunities for people in order to build a workforce that is a source of competitive advantage.

Execution and Performance. Effective execution is a matter of balancing short-term expectations with long-term business sustainability. Research shows that leaders more often than not execute poorly, because they fail to focus on creating clarity about the strategy and building unity around what it means for people, and they do not understand that effective execution requires agile, continuous course correction.

These focus areas play out differently for different leadership levels. To be effective, leaders must expand and deepen their focus in each of these areas as they move up the ranks. By focusing on these guidelines, leaders at all levels can continue excelling and growing throughout their careers.

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