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What makes a good leader? Top CEOs answer the question

Take a tip (or two) about management, success and leadership from some of the greatest business minds in the world.

It can be a tough climb to get to the top of the corporate ladder – and lonely when you get there. But does it take a certain type of person to make it in the C–suite? These are the qualities that executives all around the world believe are required to be a good leader.

  1. “Courage. Passion. Vision. Confidence.” – Shelley Sullivan, Founder and CEO, ModelCo
  2. “A good leader has a vision, and knows how to empower people towards achieving it.” – Dr Aniss GE Chami, CEO, Vitex Pharmaceuticals Pty Ltd
  3. “Someone who first and foremost is a visionary and has solid faith in their ideas. A leader is also someone who realises that people are the key to success and takes the time to get to know their team, support their team and motivate their team.” – Caitlin Pearson, General Manager of Marketing and Engagement, Macarthur Disability Services
  4. “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” – Steve Jobs, Co-Founder, Apple
  5. Steve Jobs, Co-Founder, Apple
    Steve Jobs, Co-Founder, Apple
  6. “I believe a good leader is made up of a range of interdependent qualities: Clear vision, Empowerment, Direct and real-time feedback, Transparency, and Recognition.” – Trisca Scott-Branagan, Head of Marketing, Institutional at ANZ Bank
  7. “Communication. Decisions should be quick, justifiable and communicated to the necessary people with the highest degree of transparency possible. It shows respect to staff and accountability of decision making.” – Anthony Svirskis, CEO, TRIBE
  8. “Uncompromising support throughout the entire building process. Taking responsibility for the overall strategic direction of the company. Implementing quality, safety and environmental performance. Leading by example. Training staff and celebrating achievements.” – George Boumoussa, CEO and Managing Director, GJ Building and Contracting Pty Ltd
  9. “Good leaders listen, entrust and empower their people.” – Trent Innes, Managing Director, Xero Australia
  10. “As a leader in the fast-changing world of technology you are often sailing into uncharted territory for your organisation, and so to me, a great leader leads with clarity, decisiveness and courage.” – Andrea Walsh, CIO, Isentia
  11. “Leaders aren’t self-made; they are driven. I arrived in America with no money or any belongings besides my gym bag, but I can’t say I came with nothing: Others gave me great inspiration and fantastic advice, and I was fuelled by my beliefs and an internal drive and passion.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger, Actor and Former Governor of California
  12. “There is no one leadership style that will be successful in all situations, so flexibility and a willingness to adapt are crucial. Leaders must lead with a level of passion that is unmatched. They must harness this passion by bringing clarity to what can be a complex environment; this clarity will bring purpose and direction.” – Stephen Capello, CEO, BankVic
  13. “Someone who looks at holistic measures. For example, health and happiness along with traditional success metrics.” – Andrea Ingham, Director of Sales ANZ, Spotify
  14. “An individual who is willing to be authentic and lead from the front. They need to have emotional intelligence to understand people, have personality, charisma and ambition to succeed.” – Mari Ruiz, Chief People and Culture Officer, BankVic
  15. “You need the humility to remind yourself that you’ve got to get better at everything you do. I’m never done growing my company or myself.”– Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO, Amazon
  16. Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO, Amazon
    Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO, Amazon
  17. “Every great leader in my life, from Mike Tomlin to Olympic ski coach Scott Rawles, led from a place of authenticity. Learn from others, read autobiographies of your favourite leaders, pick up skills along the way… but never lose your authentic voice, opinions and, ultimately, how you make decisions.” – Jeremy Bloom, Co-Founder and CEO, Integrate
  18. “One of the biggest myths is that good business leaders are great visionaries with dogged determination to stick to their goals no matter what. It’s nonsense. The truth is, leaders need to keep an open mind while being flexible, and adjust if necessary.” – Daymond John, CEO, FUBU
  19. “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”– Jack Welch, former Chairman and CEO, General Electric
  20. “You have to look at leadership through the eyes of the followers and you have to live the message. What I have learned is that people become motivated when you guide them to the source of their own power and when you make heroes out of employees who personify what you want to see in the organisation.” – Anita Roddick, Founder, The Body Shop
  21. “If we cannot disconnect, we cannot lead. Creating the culture of burnout is opposite to creating a culture of sustainable creativity. This is something that needs to be taught in business schools. This mentality needs to be introduced as a leadership and performance-enhancing tool.” – Arianna Huffington, Founder and CEO, Thrive Global
  22. “Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.”– Colin Powell, Former US National Security Advisor
  23. “Management is about arranging and telling. Leadership is about nurturing and enhancing.” – Tom Peters, business management writer

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