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June 2013

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Some say that these are three attributes that a great leader must demonstrate. Motive is the reason why you chose the role you have. Passion is what makes you laugh and what makes you cry … or occasionally angry. Spontaneity is the ability to answer a question you haven’t heard before.

The quality of executive leadership became a burning issue a year or two ago with the passing of Steve Jobs and the legacy of leadership lessons he left behind. The recent passing of ex-British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher also sparked an outburst of debate on the qualities of leadership (read our special feature on leadership on page 29).

Leadership quality influences the value of your company – just consider the effect Alex Ferguson’s retirement had on the share price of Manchester United. Time and time again, the markets have proven that even companies in low-growth or commodity industries can offer winning stocks on the basis of exceptional management. Likewise, the markets have shown that few stocks thrive over the long term with suboptimal leadership.

You might wonder what, then, goes into making a great CEO and how they build value for shareholders?
Unfortunately, there are no objective quantifiable markers for a great CEO. Remarkable CEOs have come from the Ivy League and from Benoni. Likewise, legendary CEOs are deeply steeped in a single industry, or have wide-ranging careers across many functions and sectors.

Outstanding leaders also have more influence than others. Have you ever wondered why? It’s because they “invest” more in others. They are trusted because they give and take in a manner that empowers and inspires colleagues and makes an indelible impression on them. Those with the greatest influence almost always have the strongest relationships within and outside of their companies.

If leadership is about influence, then influence is about relationships, and relationships are about the investments made in people. And it’s about motive, passion and spontaneity.

Motive, passion and spontaneity complement one another. Spontaneity without purpose is emptiness. Passion without purpose is hot air. Motive without passion is silence; no one knows what you are thinking or feeling.

These three words epitomise great leadership. A true leader must strike a balance between being sharp, amicable and true and being humble and tough. But these three words do give substance to a leader’s ambition and sustenance to a leader’s purpose.

Author: Gerinda Jooste

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