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The Five Secrets of Leaders Who Matter

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The lifespan of most S&P 500 companies has shrunk from an average of 50 years to a mere fifteen. In today's volatile, high-velocity marketplace, what is the secret to longevity? Leaders who anticipate and embrace marketplace disruption, then quickly act to create relevant value for their customers and stakeholders.

It's no longer enough to have great products. Successful leaders find ways to make their companies matter. They accelerate disruption and drive innovation. They help their organizations become the consumers' obvious choice by solving their most pressing needs.

Whether they've started world-changing companies or turned failing organizations around, research shows that leaders who help their companies succeed share five powerful characteristics:

1. They Choose Optimism. Believing in a bright future for your company sends a powerful message to people who work in the organization. When leaders shine a light on what is possible, people are more likely to put in the hard work that transforms a promising vision into reality.

2. They're Positive Disrupters. Challenge your thinking visibly and often, and expect others to do the same. Modeling the way sets the standard for people's willingness to think creatively. Don't ask others to defend a business case. Instead, ask for additional options. Push people to stretch beyond the obvious. What has to change to create the "new normal"?

3. They Think Critically. Traditional leadership models have required the illusion of knowing all the answers. In today's world, Google can answer the traditional questions. Leaders need to ask questions that inspire critical thinking rather than data gathering. Detailed data is awesome, but the smartest leaders know that seeing the bigger picture is even better.

4. They Live Authentically. When you're facing a difficulty in your market, don't hide behind lawyers and public relations management. Today's world is fast and transparent. Take the time to know your supply chain, your distributors, and what happens with your product every step of the way. Be ready to respond honestly to questions and to make tough decisions that will meet the expectations of your customers and lead the way in your industry.

5. They Amplify Progress. You can't stop progress. Successful leaders choose to amplify it in a way that benefits them and their markets. Boldly create value for others by putting your organizational assets out into the world. Abundance creates value for everyone, and it will build extraordinary worth for you.

No matter what your market, industry or company, embracing disruption is the key to thriving and growing in today's world. Companies that reject business-as-usual and create distinctive value for their customers, employees and communities are building the foundation for longevity. The good news? Any leader can develop and apply these powerful characteristics to build a company that matters