World thought leaders in High Performance


Management Quality: Strong leadership

Strong-leadershipStrong Leadership is defined as ‘the ability of leading a group of people or an organization, which is not easily damaged or overcome, able to withstand opposition and has determination.’ HPO managers exhibit strong leadership in tough times by not deviating from the pursued course, yet at the same time they are flexible in the ways to get where they want and need to be. They know there are many ways to Rome and they will get there. HPO managers are not afraid to seek out confrontation and to put their foot down if necessary, because they find achieving the agreed upon goals more important than maintaining the harmony in the organization (within reason). They will not hesitate to call employees or colleagues to account if agreements are not honored. During these confrontations HPO managers are calm, speak clearly and never become personal in order to not damage the other person. They always approach the confrontation from the stand of what is good for the organization and how the other person can contribute to that.

Although we know that the required behavior at Umpqua works, we can still relapse if we take our eyes off the ball. That is because behavior is like a rubber band. You may stretch it quite a bit and sometimes because of the pressure, it will snap back to the old status. But if you have been here a while, you’ll notice you the relapse will not be that far. It is like two steps forward and one step backward. Then it becomes a case of how fast can you get people away from the wall and move them forward again.

— Lani Hayward, Umpqua Bank


You are only a strong leader if you are perceived that way by your employees and your superiors. This means that you have to pay attention to the following.

  • Make sure you have the cooperation of your employees and your colleagues. Without their consent and support you will not be able to achieve anything.
  • Know what is going on in the organization. Create an early warning system, which shows you when trouble is brewing so you can undertake timely action.
  • Be predictable so people know they can depend on you.
  • Give credit where credit is due.
  • Be confidently humble.
  • Check your ego at the door.
  • Be result-oriented.

Strong leaders must be able to honestly say certain things to other persons about their performance and they must also be able to take the feedback themselves, if somebody says something to them about their functioning. Employees must have the feeling that managers will listen to them and deal fairly with their issues and possible mistakes. Communication skills are of course also important, with the employees and especially in the network of key-players throughout the company and in the value chain. Taking initiatives, daring to make choices, to take decisions and actions, being autonomous because there is nobody who will tell you how to run your business. But they should also be able to ask for help when they need it, don’t try to fix problems which are over your head when you could have easily ask for assistance from colleagues or your boss. They should be open if they have difficulty with certain things. In this company it will not make them seem weaker, it is seen as a sign of strong leadership.

— Jan Maas, TATA Steel

For more information about the HPO Framework, HPO Diagnosis, our lecturers, HPO Experts, workshops and Master Classes, please contact us ( or T. +31 (0) 35 – 603 70 07).