Do High Performers Always Make Great Leaders?

Article contributed by Lisa L. Custardo, CC-SEI, MBA, CPA, CGMA

According to Duncan Mathison, Managing Director of Executive Coaching for DBM, a human capital management firm, “The most commonly cited reason employees leave companies is their unhappiness with their manager.” In fact, “The top 10% of the managers in a company will have half the turnover rate of the middle 80% and two and a half times less turnover than the bottom 10%”, he says. “Good leadership makes a huge difference in not only retention but overall company performance.”

So, as professionals, what can we do increase the effectiveness in ourselves and our managers to secure the optimal level of human capital that effectively sustains the rising expectations of our company’s operational, financial, and leadership performance? Hire the right people – with the right talents – put them in the right place – and, treat them right. Right? Sounds easy enough, doesn’t it? Mathison goes on to state, “The skills that make a high performer are NOT the same skills that make good leaders. Research shows that only 29% of those employees who are high-performers have the potential to be great leaders. Two qualities make the difference. First, great managers have high emotional intelligence; they know themselves better and handle themselves well with others. Secondly, they are very good at learning and applying what they learn to improve their skills.” Ah – therein lies the key.

In my personal and professional opinion, if you are looking to increase your skills and awareness in the area of emotional intelligence, and/or that of the managers in your organization, you are in exactly the right place! In working directly with the Institute for Social + Emotional Intelligence and the coaches & practitioners certified to administer the self-assessment Social + Emotional Intelligence profile (SEIP), you will likely find yourself in perfect company to gain the best insight, knowledge and tools that put you, your employees, and your company at the best pivotal vantage point for professional success.

Outlining 26 significant areas identified as critical in socially and emotionally intelligent individuals, teams and organizations, the SEIP material has been highly recognized as the most comprehensive, statistically-reliable, scientifically- validated instrument on the market today. Including such important areas as stress management, emotional self awareness, innovation & creativity, resilience, managing conflict productively, integrity, personal power and agility, powerful influencing skills, catalyzing change, teamwork and collaboration, communication, building trust & bonds, and inspirational leadership, it’s no wonder Mr. Mathison and DBM site emotional intelligence as a critical factor for professional and organizational success.

For anyone aspiring to be a top executive, or even a great manager for that fact, I offer the following recommendations, as laid out by DBM, including a few additions of my own:

  • Find an organization that invests in employee development
  • Challenge yourself to improve your ability to work with others
  • Seek out feedback
  • If you are a manager, get an executive coach to help you develop the leadership skills for the next level of responsibility
  • Invest in yourself and those around you by becoming more aware about the level of your own emotional intelligence strengths and limitations and develop a stronger sense of social awareness, understanding, and influence
  • Learn what the behaviors look like in those that demonstrate strong emotional and social intelligence and model them regularly
  • Go the extra step of identifying and  improving areas within the competency areas of social and emotional intelligence that you personally see as vital for your own self-development and that of your organization

Recommendations as set forth by DBM – Zenger and Folkman, The Extraordinary Leader

Are you part of the 29% that Mr. Mathison refers to as, “high-performing professionals who also have the potential to be great leaders?” If so, how do you know AND what are you effectively doing to amplify and sustain your leadership talent and that of your organization, in helping your company rise to an exceptional level of performance?

I look forward to any input, comments, suggestions and/or additional recommendations for those aspiring to great leadership.

My highest regard,

Lisa L. Custardo

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