Sunday, April 21st, 2019

The DNA of Leadership: how to be successful

Posted: Thursday, July 10, 2014

By Bernard Marr, Best Selling Author

Success in business, of course, depends on so many factors. There are external drivers of success as well as internal ones. In this post I want to share with you one internal factor which I call the DNA of the leadership team.

Over the years I have worked with many successful (and some not so successful) companies, and I have observed that more often than not, the successful ones seem to have three main characters in their leadership team.

The DNA of your leadership team

Take a look at the leadership team of your company or a company you work with. Can you identify where each person falls in the leadership DNA?

D: A Dreamer — Usually the founder or CEO, this is someone with a vision and the passion to make it happen, someone who can inspire others and take them with him/her. Quite often, the dreamer is not as good at details, numbers, processes, finance, etc., but rather a “big picture” person and an extrovert who knows how to inspire others.

N: A Number Cruncher — Usually the CFO or the VP of Finance, this is someone who loves numbers and can keep an eye on the money, maybe even a trained accountant. These people tend to be introverts and usually are not natural leaders. Sometimes they have trouble communicating well or inspiring others, because their gift is in the analytics, not the emotions. Nevertheless, they are a vital component for any successful business.

A: An Accomplisher — Usually the Chief Operating Officer, this is someone who can be a strong taskmaster, making sure projects get delivered, and that key systems and processes get implemented. This person needs to be a strong finisher of tasks, making sure things happen. This person can also make difficult personnel decisions and restructure the business in a way that is right. They may also be good at sales, as they are often optimistic, competitive, and high-energy.

Balancing the team for success

Together, this trio is a business dream team. Businesses who have too much of one personality type and too little of another can falter. A business without a Number Cruncher won’t have the financial knowledge or wherewithal to make important decisions. A business without an Accomplisher might have personnel or productivity problems. And no company can truly reach the highest pinnacles of success without a vision and a Dreamer to keep the company on track.

It is my experience that you usually don't find all of these characteristics in a single person. Occasionally a person might be strong in two areas, and I can only ever recall one (exceptional) CEO that had strengths across all three areas.

But what if you’re not a large enough company to have this kind of leadership team? Even if you’re in a very small business or are a solo-entrepreneur, you can still seek to balance these characteristics. For example, if you are more of a Dreamer, you might be sure to find an accountant experienced enough to help you make business decisions based on your finances, or hire a project manager or sales manager with the ability to get things done.

For me, this has become a powerful way of assessing the potential success of a leadership team. When the three personality types come together with mutual respect, they can accomplish much more than any one or two could on their own.