Successful leaders are over achievers in many ways yet they have a couple of traits that I have found over the past 5 years as a group chairman for Vistage International that stand out over their many other strengths. They are consistent in their management style with a reasonable control over their emotions and they are men and women of their word. Steve Portner, CEO of JMJ Associates headquartered in Austin comes to mind as one of these exceptional individuals. He’s a founding member of my CE3331 leadership group and has provided “spot on” guidance to members over the years.

Do you know if you are considered trustworthy? How do you know? I now ask member-candidates “What does …being your word mean to you.” Great leaders lead by example, they walk their talk. This trait enables their direct reports to respect, trust and follow them. Great leaders develop leverage and are able to get more done than if they had to do it themselves. Successful leaders whether they know it or not, get to know, like and trust their leadership or management team. This allows their team to do the same in return not only back up to the CEO but to their direct reports. Strong managers and leaders develop strong direct reports by being their word. Is there trust or distrust in your organization? Do you and/or your team leaders promise too much and find it difficult to deliver said promises?

If there was a dramatic increase in trust, partnership and collaboration in your team or company, what would it look like in terms of performance and/or revenue and profit results? What meaning or core value does … “being your word” suggest to you or more important mean to you? My sense is trust is a practice and the biggest challenge to building trust in a group, tribe, team or company is being your word.

Encouraging or requiring your management team to say what they will do and do what they said they would do starts with you doesn’t it? If you want to improve results, create greater ownership further down into your organization focus on …being your word. Performance contracts with your direct reports is a great place to start with monthly and quarterly reviews, not you defining expectations but your management team establishing their goals to line up with company expectations. They too should have performance contracts with their direct reports. Who have you designated to be your replacement or your COO? Who have your direct reports singled out to replace them thus making themselves promotable?

Jim Collin’s book Good to Great suggests at least to me that leaders by being their word are in a much better place to take on the challenges facing owners and CEOs in our ever changing world today. Wanting to be more strategic and less tactical? Give this thread some time and ponder what …being your word means to you.

Ed Stillman leads a leadership advisory group in Austin Texas which is full and is currently interviewing Austin based owners, presidents and CEOs that would thrive in his 2nd group of like minded individuals interested in investing in their personal growth and development.

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