What makes a leader stand out as remarkably effective? From what I’ve observed in my work in organizations, effective leaders hone their attention to focus on four key promises.

Everyone expects great things from leaders—probably more than is humanly possible. But leaders must deliver only four interdependent promises to drive business results. Failure to complete a single promise will likely lead to disappointing outcomes.

Consultants Robert J. Anderson and William A. Adams delineate these promises in Mastering Leadership: An Integrated Framework for Breakthrough Performance and Extraordinary Business Results (Wiley, 2015):

  1. Set the right direction and create meaningful work.
  2. Engage all stakeholders and hold them accountable for performance.
  3. Ensure that processes and systems facilitate focus and execution.
  4. Lead effectively. Maintain trust to achieve and sustain desired results.

Defining Effective Leadership

Some experts believe the most effective leaders bring about maximum financial results. Others would point to charismatic, larger-than-life CEOs who inspire followers with vision. Still others claim effective leaders have high levels of emotional intelligence, are skilled at making tough decisions, are relentlessly focused on execution and excel at building trusting relationships.

Great Expectations

All of these leadership qualities matter a great deal. It’s also difficult to perform effectively if a leader fails to manage people’s perceptions and expectations. As Anderson and Adams explain:

“When we step into positions of leadership, we make a whole set of promises we may not know we are making. These promises are profound and come in the form of high, often unspoken, expectations. Understanding, managing and living up to these promises define our leadership.”

If you were to define the key elements required to be an effective leader, what would they be? Where you work, which qualities are valued most in your leaders? What are your expectations of the leaders you work for?

I’d love to hear from you; You can contact me here or on LinkedIn.