Admired Leaders Are a Rare Combination of Results and Followership
The new Twitter CEO Linda Yaccarino is known inside her previous employer as the “Velvet Hammer.”
Apparently, Yaccarino earned the label by combining a hard-nosed negotiation style with a warm and relational demeanor. While it’s too early to tell what type of leader she will become at Twitter, her reputation of being both results-oriented and relationally engaging is what all great leaders strive for.
Performance matters and the best leaders make results the primary focus in every corner of an organization. By designing the right metrics and maintaining an ever-watchful eye on results, leaders who demand performance usually get it. Doing this regardless of market cycle, limited resources, and with differing talent is what extraordinary results are all about.
Identify an iconic leader with a well-known reputation and you will likely identify a results-based leader who has enjoyed tremendous success over many years. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that many of these results-focused leaders achieve team outcomes by projecting a hard edge. Their demanding, sometimes autocratic, persona does not breed goodwill throughout the organization’s culture. Turnover and dissatisfaction in pockets of the organization work to undermine long-term success. Results materialize, but so does resistance.
Leaders who have the relationship skills to create extraordinary followership are equally unique. People want to be around them, feel positively about themselves when engaged by them, and maintain a deeply loyal connection to them.
Team members refuse to let such leaders down, going above and beyond because they perceive a meaningful connection to the leader. Not surprisingly, when followership leaders move to another role or leave the organization for a new assignment, many team members want to follow.
Followership without the results to sustain the enterprise doesn’t cut it. Nor does a results-only style that fails to promote the necessary ingredients of collaboration and team spirit critical to long-term success.
Leaders who share both qualities—results and followership—are exceedingly rare and enjoy an unusual respect from almost everyone around them. Colleagues, clients, and friends reserve the label Admired to describe the impact these leaders have on the enterprise and on people. Listen for the Admired word and you will likely find it attached to a leader who achieves extraordinary results while building tremendous followership through their actions and behaviors.
We have no idea if the “Velvet Hammer” is one such leader, but her reputation, at least to date, suggests she is operating in the right zip code. Up against a results-based leader like Elon Musk, it will be fascinating to see how her reputation evolves.