Winning Traits for the “First X1”

Charismatic CEOs with “big hairy audacious goals” are out, effective execution and leadership are in.

That’s according to new research which identifies Australia’s “top X1” high-performing organisations.

Carried out by team from Mt Eliza Business School, the research picked mixed bag team, ranging from property developer (Lend Lease), to welfare agency (Salvation Army) and including an airline (Qantas), mining company (Rio Tinto) and retailer (Woolworths).

Other team members were Brambles (a diversified industrial services company), Harvey Norman, Macquarie Bank, National Australia Bank, Telstra and Westfield.

In discovering what makes these companies top players, the research team debunked few myths about success formulas. The charismatic CEO didn’t figure, neither did profit mania, vision and mission statements, or high pay levels.

Amongst nine elements found to be critical to growth were more low-key traits such as fully aligned systems, effective execution, choosing the right people, and careful risk management.

Research professor Graham Hubbard said the findings supported some current observations about success factors.

“What this project confirmed for us is that good performance doesn’t rely on fads or breathtaking risks. It comes down to doing what you set out to do.

“Winning is hard work and requires consistency over the long haul.”

The three-year research project was open to any type of organisation, with initial nominations arising from interviews with more than 1000 CEOs and senior managers on the school’s executive development programme.

Results are contained in new book, The First X1: Winning Organisations in Australia, which was launched in Sydney and Melbourne last month.

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