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Cindy Kent: Embrace 10 traits of disruptive leaders

Friday, July 31, 2015  
Posted by: Barbara Francella
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Cindy Kent, president and GM for drug delivery systems for 3M, outlined action steps
in her talk, "Disrupting Leadership: Game On!” at the NEW Executive Leaders Forum.

Disruptive leaders are compelled by their passion and a vision for a new reality that drive them until they see that reality to the end, Cindy Kent, president and GM for drug delivery systems at 3M, told more than 300 industry leaders at the NEW Executive Leaders Forum, July 29 outside Los Angeles.

Kent offered these 10 attributes of disruptive leaderships during her NEWTalk "Disrupting Leadership: Game On!” For these leaders, she said, disruption is the outcome – not the aim.

According to Kent, disruptive leaders are:

1. Introspective and self-aware. What do you perceive to be the truth about yourself? "Women spend an inordinate amount of time focusing on inadequacies and not taking adequate thought about our strengths and power," Kent said. "That erodes self-confidence and then we aren’t setting big goals for ourselves.

2. Authentic. The most disruptive, effective leaders are comfortable in their own skin.

3. Accountable. "We need to be accountable not just for the 'big things,' to soar above and have keen eyesight for where we are taking the organization, but to swoop in, get involved, then swoop out," Kent said. "With higher engagement comes happier employers devoted to their jobs and devoted to their leader." Kent quoted John Maxwell, saying, "If you are leading and nobody is following, you're just out taking a walk."

4. Intellectually curious. "Disruptive leaders are curious about everything," she noted.

5. Integrative thinking. "Disruptive leaders take incongruous ideas and bring them together in powerful ways," Kent said.

6. Contextual intelligence. "When you walk into the Board room, you get the question behind the question," she said. "You understand there is a different conversation happening in the sub-context. You understand what is rewarded and what is penalized and are able to reach into your toolbox and use what tool you need."

7. Unleash the potential in others. Disruptive leaders empower and enable employees to do things they may not otherwise have the confidence or power to do. "Go liberate somebody," she said.

8. Master change and thrive in challenge. "Many leaders we know and admire we think are fearless," Kent said. "But 'fearless' is not the absence of fear, but seeing the challenge and going through it anyway."

9. Have a bias for action. "You have to be willing to put in the work," Kent said. "I am convinced many people are slow to act because of fear of failure, but in my experience, even if you fail and are resilient to get back on your feet, it's always better than never doing it at all."

10. Think big and bold. Disruptive leaders by definition are those who have done things that have never been done before.

"Let the world see your best you," Kent said. "With no apology."

After the NEWTalks, Kent facilitated a Deep Dive Discussion on the topic, facilitated by Jan Hill of Hill Enterprises Inc.

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