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Effective Leader With Courage Quality #1: The Astute Generalist

In advance of my forthcoming book, “Being A Leader With Courage: How To Succeed In Your C-level Position In 18 Months Or Less,” I’ve developed a self-assessment you can take to better understand your strengths and areas for improvement as a leader. You’ll find the link to this leadership assessment at the end of this post.

There are four key categories that define an effective Leader With Courage – and don’t worry, most of us have at least one category that we need to work on. We’ll focus on a different category in the series of four within each post so you can gain a better understanding of each one before or after you take the leadership assessment.

The first category is the Astute Generalist.

How close are you to this category? Here are the telltale signs:

  • You’re ABC: Always Being Curious

If there’s one thing we know about Astute Generalists, it’s that their curiosity is non-stop. To quench this thirst for curiosity, you ask a lot of questions – and they’re great questions too. In fact, you’re known even more for the thought-provoking questions you ask than you are for the answers you give.

  • You Rarely Do The Same Thing Twice

Astute Generalists regularly want to be on the move. We don’t necessarily mean physically moving from one company to the next. We mean never spending a lot of time doing the same thing over and over again.

In contrast to specialists who go narrow and deep in certain disciplines, you love looking for patterns in how things relate to one another. As a result, you have the potential to create the kind of disruption that shakes up a category or an industry in a big way. These disruptions won’t happen as frequent as incremental changes, but when they do, look out.

  • You Look To The Future For Insight As Much As The Past

Some executives believe they’ve learned everything they need to know to be successful. Drawing from their natural curiosity, however, Astute Generalists have a much different point of view. While you’ve learned from your past in a number of ways, you never look back exclusively. You always believe people have much to learn, especially in a world that is constantly changing. So you are more likely to approach each new challenge as an open-minded beginner, not a skeptical know-it-all.

  • You See “The Big Picture” Of The Organization

Certain people are most comfortable putting their heads down and working away within the functions of their role. Astute Generalists see how all the pieces of the organization fit together beyond titles and departments. If you have this ability, you can also envision the kind of long-term solutions that will impact people across the board and create greater enterprise value. As you have a good handle on each solution’s complexity, you can also sufficiently evaluate its risk too.

  • You Can Spot Differentiators And Profit Makers

Thanks to your broader perspective that enables you to see the big picture, you also have a keen sense of what the company needs to do in order to preserve its competitive advantages and profitability. Astute Generalists are deeply in touch with the key value drivers of the business and well dialed into emerging threats looming on the horizon that could impact the company – whether those changes are technological, economic or from outside competitors.

  • You Understand New Industries Quickly

Leaders aren’t always hired from within. They’re also plucked from the outside – as in outside industries, not just outside the organization. Can such an outsider be successful? Yes. But Astute Generalists who are made leaders in industries that are new to them know that time is of the essence in order to quickly get up to speed on the field’s history, best practices, regulations, acronyms and more.

By the way, outsiders don’t get smart on everything about the new industry just for their own education. Astute Generalists know that this understanding is critical for them to gain credibility and support for their most important change initiatives. In other words, if you want to build this level of trust and respect among the management team and across the organization, knowledge truly is power.

So How Much Of An Astute Generalist Are You?

There’s one way to know for sure – take the leadership assessment to see how you score for this essential quality of being a Leader With Courage. After completing this free 26-question self-assessment, you can take your development to the next level with an even deeper 360 Assessment.

In our next post, we’ll examine another important quality of effective Leaders With Courage – the All-Star Relationship Builder.

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