Ken Kurson on How to Be a Strong Leader

KEN KURSON ON HOW TO BE A STRONG LEADER

One of the best signs of a good leader is how well they can effectively train new leaders within their organization, as well as how well they develop the leaders they already have on the team. Most companies say they have a training and development program, but how often are those protocols measured, and what happens if they’re found lacking? These are questions all CEOs must answer if they want to build a team that can lead in today’s fast-moving, quick-changing marketplace.

Ken Kurson – Leadership Thoughts

We recently spoke on this issue with a strong leader, Ken Kurson a Senior Managing Director at Teneo Strategy, the global CEO advisory firm. Ken Kurson serves on the Board of Directors of Ripple, the San Francisco-based blockchain company whose XRP token is the third largest cryptocurrency, and is on the advisory board of Amicus Therapeutics (Nasdaq: FOLD) in Cranbury, NJ.

Who better to speak with than Ken Kurson who served as editor in chief of the New York Observer from January 2013 through May 2017. The newspaper’s Publisher, Jared Kushner, told the New York Times, “Ken knows the ideas, stories and voices that make up New York better than anyone. He is a journalist and an author and through his years as a consultant observed the figures who create the framework of business, politics, media, tech, culture and real estate in our city.”

As Kurson told us, “Step one in this process is an honest assessment of your own strengths and weaknesses. If you only “think” or “assume” what these are, then you’re shortchanging yourself and denying your people a powerful resource. Conversely, if you understand not only who you are but also what you are good at … and what you are not … you can take the best action to highlight those strengths and mitigate those weaknesses. It might take some training and change on your part, and it might take bringing on people that can fill your gaps. The principle here is simple. You need to work on yourself as you are working on your team. The more all of you grow, the greater your individual and collective capacity to succeed.

Talk with your leaders about your choices, about your successes and your failures. Share your earned insight with them, and let them see your decision-making processes in action. Create opportunities for them to ask questions and gain wisdom. Don’t leave your door closed to them… Remember, the better your people are at leading, the more you can focus on your core responsibilities: growing the company. An added benefit of this level of transparency is to set an expectation and a standard that you can invite your people to follow. When they see your willingness to be open and honest, then you create opportunities for them to be genuine as well. This engenders a truly open line of communication that functions more like an ongoing conversation about how all of you can work better to get more.

It’s very important here to set standards, though. Otherwise, you could risk creating a precedent for oversharing, or, worse verbal abuse of those beneath them. It sounds extreme when you say it that way, but some people really do need to be told how much “sharing” is appropriate, and what topics should be avoided. The best way to do this is to model proper behavior. And, when the times comes to do performance reviews, for example, have a defined series of metrics with which to measure success. Let that lead the conversation. Remember, the goal is the positive development of the team, so all of you can get more done and enjoy more success together. This begins and ends with how you choose to develop relationships and the standards you set as the leader.

Signs of a Good Leader

One of the best signs of a good leader is how well they can effectively train new leaders within their organization, as well as how well they develop the leaders they already have on the team. Most companies say they have a training and development program, but how often are those protocols measured, and what happens if they’re found lacking? These are questions all young CEOs must answer if they want to build a team that can lead in today’s fast-moving, quick-changing marketplace.

Step one in this process is an honest assessment of your own strengths and weaknesses. If you only “think” or “assume” what these are, then you’re shortchanging yourself and denying your people a powerful resource. Conversely, if you understand not only who you are but also what you are good at … and what you are not … you can take the best action to highlight those strengths and mitigate those weaknesses. It might take some training and change on your part, and it might take bringing on people that can fill your gaps.

The principle here is simple. You need to work on yourself as you are working on your team. The more all of you grow, the greater your individual and collective capacity to succeed.

Talk with your leaders about your choices, about your successes and your failures. Share your earned insight with them, and let them see your decision-making processes in action. Create opportunities for them to ask questions and gain wisdom. Don’t leave your door closed to them… Remember, the better your people are at leading, the more you can focus on your core responsibilities: growing the company.

An added benefit of this level of transparency is to set an expectation and a standard that you can invite your people to follow. When they see your willingness to be open and honest, then you create opportunities for them to be genuine as well. This engenders a truly open line of communication that functions more like an ongoing conversation about how all of you can work better to get more. It’s very important here to set standards, though. Otherwise, you could risk creating a precedent for oversharing, or, worse verbal abuse of those beneath them. It sounds extreme when you say it that way, but some people really do need to be told how much “sharing” is appropriate, and what topics should be avoided. The best way to do this is to model proper behavior. And, when the times comes to do performance reviews, for example, have a defined series of metrics with which to measure success. Let that lead the conversation. Remember, the goal is the positive development of the team, so all of you can get more done and enjoy more success together. This begins and ends with how you choose to develop relationships and the standards you set as the leader.”

Why did we trust the leadership of Ken Kurson? Because over the course of Kurson’s leadership, the Observer became a digitally focused, national publication, growing from 1.1 million monthly unique users doing 3 million pageviews to 6 million unique users doing 20 million pageviews (source: Google Analytics) and from the 3698th biggest site in America to the 275th  (source: Quantcast).

Ken Kurson was named 2014’s Journalist of the Year by Algemeiner magazine.

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