With apologies to one of my favorite authors, Paul Johnson, who riffed on this topic in Forbes (April 26), in my experience working alongside the best and brightest in Silicon Valley, there are twin traits of leadership that stand apart from all the other habits of successful people. BTW, note that not all successful people are great leaders, but that almost every great leader you can name has been a success. But I digress. The two traits:
1. The ability and willingness to listen. Effective leaders know how to shut-up long and often enough to actively listen to people, especially to what is not said. They know how to listen between the lines of what is said. And they hear everything. They always reserve the right to be smarter tomorrow than they are today.
2. The ability and willingness to tell the truth. Early and often. The trick here is knowing how much to disclose. Everyone doesn’t have to be told everything about everything. But whatever you do say must be factual. A reputation for honesty is priceless for everyone. For anyone who would be a leader, it’s essential.