McKeel Hagerty began his journey with YPO 17 years ago. In those first days of his membership, it never crossed his mind that YPO would become such an integral part of his life that he would say “yes” to leading the 24,000-member global organization.
In his years as a YPO member and 2016-2017 YPO Chairman, Hagerty has learned from countless members he has encountered in his travels representing the organization all over the world. In these times of rapid change, Hagerty sees strong leadership as a critical need.
“Leadership is about the presence and actions of one person affecting the lives of others around them,” explains Hagerty. “In these times of massive change throughout the world, many of which are happening at an exponential rate, there are both tremendous opportunities and feelings of uncertainty. The leader’s job is to make sense of all of this.”
To Hagerty, it comes as no surprise that the best leaders embody YPO’s mission to create “Better Leaders through Lifelong Learning and Idea Exchange™.” These purpose-driven leaders learn from each other through peer-to-peer exchange in YPO.
Hagerty defines the best YPO leaders as having six traits:
- The best YPO leaders are habitual learners. Having an inherent drive toward lifelong learning, they understand that learning is not about finding the perfect answer, but about the process of seeking a higher understanding and expanding their perspective. They also constantly review their own performance and seek feedback from impartial sources. Key questions leaders ask themselves daily include, “I wonder if … ?” and “How can I do better?”
- The best YPO leaders build trust networks. There is no substitute for real human connections and this is the core skill of peacemakers and the most relatable leaders. Even when a situation makes it difficult to trust, the best leader will still reach out to connect. “Can we talk?” and “Will you meet with me?” are regular questions from an outstanding leader.
- The best YPO leaders give compelling context. Humans think best in stories, so it is logical that businesses with compelling visions, who share them in a context that is relatable and intriguing, will find success. “What does this mean?” is the question asked by the leader who embraces this concept.
- The best YPO leaders seek maximum impact. They have the courage to act, the wisdom to prioritize and the courage to choose what not to do. Their thinking centers around, “What really matters?” and “What can we stop doing?”
- The best YPO leaders constantly build others up. While the best leaders generally find themselves in the spotlight, they know their best success only comes from sharing the spotlight as well as helping others succeed. “How can I help?” is a question they ask those around them every day.
- The best YPO leaders are adaptable and help others adapt. Today’s successful leader reads and acts on signals, creates environments of experimentation, mobilizes fast responses for multiple alternatives and helps people become comfortable with learning new paradigms instead of following old rules. These leaders often are heard to ask, “How might we …?” or “How flexible can we be?”
The truly successful leader also realizes that their leadership development is continuous. “While the best YPO leaders have very strong value sets and display consistent character, they do not view themselves as a finished product,” Hagerty says. “It is the growth habit of the YPO personality.”