What Is Effective Leadership? 'It Comes Down to Four Things'

Dec 11, 2017 1:40 PM ET
PNC's Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Bill Demchak

Originally posted on the Pittsburgh Quarterly

Pittsburgh Quarterly magazine asked five high-​profile executives, including Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Bill Demchak. 

What do you believe to be the most important ingredients of successful leadership? Bill's interview from the magazine is below.

Effective leadership can take many forms, but in my experience, it comes down to four things.

First, good leaders have the ability to assemble teams of talented people and to harness the power in the diversity of thought and experiences among them. I’ve never seen a group of people who all look and think the same do anything truly transformative. As a leader, I want to build teams of people who challenge convention and who challenge each other to elevate their thinking, transcend their individual limitations, and come up with new solutions that solve problems and create value for the people we serve.

Second, good leaders commit their organizations to doing right by the people they serve, and they establish accountability from the top. I can’t ask employees throughout my company to take responsibility for fixing problems and delivering great customer experiences if I’m not committed to doing so myself. No matter where you are within an organization, taking ownership and solving problems is one of the surest paths to establishing yourself as an effective leader.

Third, good leaders invest in the future. They understand and anticipate customers’ needs and build solutions to meet them through time. They are curious and passionate about figuring out what’s next in service of their customers. They work toward the future by developing the skills of their employees and by giving people opportunities to stretch, take risks and grow into leaders themselves.

Lastly, good leaders aren’t afraid to admit mistakes or weaknesses because they know that leadership is about always working to be better each day than you were the day before. And when we can be honest with ourselves and others about those areas where we have room for improvement, we’re more likely to invest ourselves and our resources in being better tomorrow.

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