17 Top Business Leaders Share Which Qualities They Look for in Leaders in 2019

It can be argued that leadership is the most important factor in the success of a business.

Those that run and maintain a company set the tone for the entire culture within that company.

It is true, then, that finding good leadership is the most important factor in growing a business.

But finding the “it” qualities in a leadership candidate can be difficult.

So what are the qualities businesses should look for in leadership candidates?

We asked 17 top business professionals what they look for in leaders, and what they believe are a few of the more significant challenges leaders will face leading their companies in 2019.

Here is what they said…

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Scarlett Ong Rui Chern, Co-founder

Peerstachio, Inc.

What is the top quality you look for in a leader? Inspiring.

What is a common challenge you see with leaders within a company? They treat themselves superior from their employees and don’t relate to them which demotivates employees. Employees and leaders in the company should have a dynamic and relatable relationship in order to be productive in their work.

Learn more about Scarlett Ong Rui Chern, Co-founder

Sara Ross, VP – Global Private Equity Team

Ottawa Avenue Private Capital

What is the top quality you look for in a leader? One thing I look for in a leader is someone who can get the most out of the talents of each of their team members.

What is a common challenge you see with leaders within a company? I think it is hard for people who are excellent at their craft to trust the next generation with something they have worked so hard to build and empower them to learn through taking risks and making mistakes.

Learn more about Sara Ross, VP – Global Private Equity Team

Bob Breitman, COO

PeriCertum, inc.

What is the top quality you look for in a leader? Persistence/Resilience

What is a common challenge you see with leaders within a company? I think that leaders often have trouble synthesizing multiple, often diverse, ideas to come up with out-of-the-box hybrid solutions. Once they have the idea, they often have trouble selling the solution to the organization.

Learn more about Bob Breitman, COO

Ashwin Puri, Analyst

Invest Detroit Ventures

What is the top quality you look for in a leader? Rockstar communicator

Learn more about Ashwin Puri, Analyst

David Zoellner, CEO/CIO

Zoellner Whole Financial PLLC

What is the top quality you look for in a leader? Creativity

What is a common challenge you see with leaders within a company? Leaders of companies need to dismantle the corporate culture of climbing the corporate ladder over the backs of their peers.

A close friend of mine constantly complained of roadblocks to the ideas and how peers and managers reminded them of their place.  Ray Dalio of Bridgewater has a better model where he encourages ideas to be challenged without retribution.

Learn more about David Zoellner, CEO/CIO

Sam Kain, CFO

Diversified Data Processing and Consulting, Inc.

What is the top quality you look for in a leader? Native intelligence, that capacity to understand things quickly, often described as “street smarts.”  No amount of academic training can provide that skill and not all highly intelligent people (IQ measured) possess it.

What is a common challenge you see with leaders within a company? Willingness to make difficult decisions and then to acknowledge a mistake and change course as needed.

Learn more about Sam Kain, CFO

Jonathan Polter, CEO

PawnGuru

What is the top quality you look for in a leader? Persistence/Resilience

Learn more about Jonathan Polter, CEO

Edward Hightower, Managing Director

Motoring Ventures LLC

What is the top quality you look for in a leader? Integrity

What is a common challenge you see with leaders within a company? Some leaders fail to focus on doing what is best for the customer.

Learn more about Edward Hightower, Managing Director

Pranav Sood, CEO

Trellis

What is the top quality you look for in a leader? Curiosity

What is a common challenge you see with leaders within a company? It is difficult to balance limited resources, whether it’s hiring or budgeting. Once you have your resources, then it’s getting everyone on the same page and operating like an owner.

Learn more about Pranav Sood, CEO

David Levy, President

Utica Leaseco, LLC

What is the top quality you look for in a leader? Vision

What is a common challenge you see with leaders within a company? The ability to be both proactive and reactive in today’s fast moving business climate. To create a work environment that promotes creative approaches to problem solving and instills ownership of operational processes from the ground up.

Learn more about David Levy, President

Tim Hicks, Principal

TCH Consulting

What is the top quality you look for in a leader? Awareness (of self and others)
Without awareness, a leader may miss important inputs that will guide their actions. This assumes a leader is faced with a challenging situation calling for them to adjust to changing conditions with nuance. 

Learn more about Tim Hicks, Principal

Sheldon Stone, Partner

Amherst Partners, LLC

What is the top quality you look for in a leader? Persistence/Resilience

What is a common challenge you see with leaders within a company? Lack of willingness to address attitude/behavior issues with staff.  This falls under the category of lack of accountability. It results in a deterioration of the culture of the organization.

Learn more about Sheldon Stone, Partner, Practice Leader Restructuring Advisory

Amad Elia, Managing Partner

Biotech Frontier Capital

What is the top quality you look for in a leader? Persistence/Resilience

What is a common challenge you see with leaders within a company? The challenge I see is that leaders are scared to be authentic, in terms of honesty towards employee performance, hiring practices and firing, sales etc.

Learn more about Amad Elia, Managing Partner

Yusuf Hai, Managing Director

CIG Capital Advisors

What is the top quality you look for in a leader? Awareness

What is a common challenge you see with leaders within a company? If one is aware, he/she can determine what they need to do before just doing it.  Sometimes it will require patience, other times persistence.

At times, it may need further engagement/communication at others it might be better to sit tight. Engaging appropriately with all different types of people.

Learn more about Yusuf Hai, Managing Director

Mark Coffeen, Director U.S. Federal Taxes

Lear Corporation

What is the top quality you look for in a leader? Persistence/Resilience

What is a common challenge you see with leaders within a company? Leaders should show persistence/resilience in the pursuit of corporate goals and objectives. Not reacting quickly enough to external forces.

Learn more about Mark Coffeen, Director U.S. Federal Taxes

Rick Pulford, President

Corporate Strategies, Inc

What is the top quality you look for in a leader? Rockstar communicator. Without it, most outcomes will likely be negative.  All the other great traits listed, persistence, great communication skills et. al., are important but, without honesty and integrity above all, any endeavor is likely to be diminished.  

What is a common challenge you see with leaders within a company? It all goes back to having the right people in their correct organizational slot.  With that accomplished, goals like sales will follow. This also means that people chosen are team players.

Learn more about Rick Pulford, President

Shalom Goldberg, CEO

United Detroit Properties

What is the top quality you look for in a leader? Awareness

What is a common challenge you see with leaders within a company? It all begins with Awareness. Without Awareness, communication and persistence won’t get you where you want to  go. Firing someone as soon as they should be.

Learn more about Shalom Goldberg, CEO

Wrap Up

Finding the right leadership is a central factor in the growth and success of any business. The culture, efficiency, and productivity of a company will depend on the tone set by those at the top. Hopefully this guide will assist you in finding the right people, with the right qualities to take you and your business into 2019 and beyond.

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