Three Traits of Successful Leaders

Adam Bryant: “After almost a decade of writing the Corner Office column, this will be my final one — and from all the interviews, and the five million words of transcripts from those conversations, I have learned valuable leadership lessons and heard some great stories … Are there some qualities — beyond the obvious, like hard work and perseverance — that explain why these people ultimately got the top jobs? I’ve noticed three recurring themes.”

“First, they share a habit of mind that is best described as “applied curiosity.” They tend to question everything. They want to know how things work, and wonder how they can be made to work better. They’re curious about people and their back stories. And rather than wondering if they are on the right career path, they make the most of whatever path they’re on, wringing lessons from all their experiences.”

“Second, C.E.O.s seem to love a challenge. Discomfort is their comfort zone. The third theme is how they managed their own careers on their way to the top. They focus on doing their current job well, and that earns them promotions. That may sound obvious. But many people can seem more concerned about the job they want than the job they’re doing.”

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