Leadership Qualities: How Do You Compare?

It is always interesting and enlightening to hear what others describe as 'great leadership' traits. However, no matter how many conversations are had over however many mountains of coffee with however many people from differing backgrounds and creeds, great leadership traits have a singular relationship. Read on, and reflect on how your traits, and your thoughts on the subject, compare.

1. Focus 

“It’s been said that leadership is making important but unpopular decisions. That’s certainly a partial truth, but I think it underscores the importance of focus. To be a good leader, you cannot major in minor things, and you must be less distracted than your competition. To get the few critical things done, you must develop incredible selective ignorance. Otherwise, the trivial will drown you.”Tim Ferriss, bestselling author, host of The Tim Ferriss Show

2. Confidence

“A leader instills confidence and ‘followership’ by having a clear vision, showing empathy and being a strong coach. As a female leader, to be recognized I feel I have to show up with swagger and assertiveness, yet always try to maintain my Southern upbringing, which underscores kindness and generosity. The two work well together in gaining respect.”—Barri Rafferty, CEO, Ketchum North America

3. Transparency

“I’ve never bought into the concept of ‘wearing the mask.’ As a leader, the only way I know how to engender trust and buy-in from my team and with my colleagues is to be 100 percent authentically me—open, sometimes flawed, but always passionate about our work. It has allowed me the freedom to be fully present and consistent. They know what they’re getting at all times. No surprises.”—Keri Potts, senior director of public relations, ESPN

4. Integrity

“Our employees are a direct reflection of the values we embody as leaders. If we’re playing from a reactive and obsolete playbook of needing to be right instead of doing what’s right, then we limit the full potential of our business and lose quality talent. If you focus on becoming authentic in all your interactions, that will rub off on your business and your culture, and the rest takes care of itself.”—Gunnar Lovelace, co-CEO and cofounder, Thrive Market

5. Inspiration

“People always say I’m a self-made man. But there is no such thing. Leaders aren’t self-made; they are driven. I arrived in America with no money or any belongings besides my gym bag, but I can’t say I came with nothing: Others gave me great inspiration and fantastic advice, and I was fueled by my beliefs and an internal drive and passion. That’s why I’m always willing tooffer motivation—to friends or strangers on Reddit. I know the power of inspiration, and if someone can stand on my shoulders to achieve greatness, I’m more than willing to help them up.” —Arnold Schwarzenegger, former governor of California

6. Passion

“You must love what you do. In order to be truly successful at something, you must obsess over it and let it consume you. No matter how successful your business might become, you are never satisfied and constantly push to do something bigger, better and greater. You lead by example not because you feel like it’s what you should do, but because it is your way of life.”—Joe Perez, cofounder, Tastemade

7. Innovation

“In any system with finite resources and infinite expansion of population—like your business, or like all of humanity—innovation is essential for not only successbut also survival. The innovators are our leaders. You cannot separate the two. Whether it is by thought, technology or organization, innovation is our only hope to solve our challenges.”—Aubrey Marcus, founder, Onnit

8. Patience

“Patience is really courage that’s meant to test your commitment to your cause. The path to great things is always tough, but the best leaders understand when to abandon the cause and when to stay the course. If your vision is bold enough, there will be hundreds of reasons why it ‘can’t be done’ and plenty of doubters. A lot of things have to come together—external markets, competition, financing, consumer demand and always a little luck—to pull off something big.”—Dan Brian, COO, WhipClip

9. Stoicism

“It’s inevitable: We’re going to find ourselves in some real shit situations, whether they’re costly mistakes, unexpected failures or unscrupulous enemies. Stoicism is, at its core, accepting and anticipating this in advance, so that you don’t freak out, react emotionally and aggravate things further. Train our minds, consider the worst-case scenarios and regulate our unhelpful instinctual responses—that’s how we make sure shit situations don’t turn into fatal resolutions.” —Ryan Holiday, author of The Obstacle is the Way and former director of marketing, American Apparel

10. Wonkiness

“Understanding the underlying numbers is the best thing I’ve done for my business. As we have a subscription-based service, the biggest impact on our bottom line was to decrease our churn rate. Being able to nudge that number from 6 percent to 4 Percent meant a 50 percent increase in the average customer’s lifetime value.
We would not have known to focus on this metric without being able to accurately analyze our data.” —Sol Orwell, cofounder, Examine.com

11. Authenticity

“It’s true that imitation is one of the greatest forms of flattery, but not when it comes to leadership—and every great leader in my life, from Mike Tomlin to Olympic ski coach Scott Rawles, led from a place of authenticity. Learn from others, read autobiographies of your favorite leaders, pick up skills along the way... but never lose your authentic voice, opinions and, ultimately, how you make decisions.”—Jeremy Bloom, cofounder and CEO, Integrate

12. Open-mindedness

“One of the biggest myths is that good business leaders are great visionaries with dogged determination to stick to their goals no matter what. It’s nonsense. The truth is, leaders need to keep an open mind while being flexible, and adjust if necessary. When in the startup phase of a company, planning is highly overrated and goals are not static. Your commitment should be to invest, develop and maintain great relationships.”—Daymond John, CEO, Shark Branding and FUBU

13. Decisiveness

“In high school and college, to pick up extra cash I would often referee recreational basketball games. The mentor who taught me how to officiate gave his refs one important piece of advice that translates well into the professional world: ‘Make the call fast, make the call loud and don’t look back.’ In marginal situations, a decisively made wrong call will often lead to better long-term results and a stronger team than a wishy-washy decision that turns out to be right.”—Scott Hoffman, owner, Folio Literary Management

14. Personableness

“We all provide something unique to this world, and we can all smell when someone isn’t being real. The more you focus on genuine connections with people, and look for ways to help them—rather than just focus on what they can do for you—the more likable and personable you become. This isn’t required to be a great leader, but it is to be a respected leader, which can make all the difference in your business.”—Lewis Howes, New York Times bestselling author of The School of Greatness

15. Empowerment

“Many of my leadership philosophies were learned as an athlete. My most successful teams didn’t always have the most talent but did have teammates with the right combination of skills, strengths and a common trust in each other. To build an ‘overachieving’ team, you need to delegate responsibility and authority. Giving away responsibilities isn’t always easy. It can actually be harder to do than completing the task yourself, but with the right project selection and support, delegating can pay off in dividends. It is how you truly find people’s capabilities and get the most out of them.” —Shannon Pappas, senior vice president, Beachbody LIVE

16. Positivity 

“In order to achieve greatness, you must create a culture of optimism. There will be many ups and downs, but the prevalence of positivity will keep the company going. But be warned: This requires fearlessness. You have to truly believe in making the impossible possible.” —Jason Harris, CEO, Mekanism

17. Generosity

“My main goal has always been to offer the best of myself. We all grow—as a collective whole—when I’m able to build up others and help them grow as individuals.”—Christopher Perilli, CEO, Pixel Mobb

18. Persistence

“A great leader once told me, ‘persistence beats resistance.’ And after working at Facebook, Intel and Microsoft and starting my own company, I’ve learned two major lessons: All great things take time, and you must persist no matter what. That’s what it takes to be a leader: willingness to go beyond where others will stop.” —Noah Kagan, Chief Sumo, appsumo

19. Insightfulness

“It takes insight every day to be able to separate that which is really important from all the incoming fire. It’s like wisdom—it can be improved with time, if you’re paying attention, but it has to exist in your character. It’s inherent. When your insight is right, you look like a genius. And when your insight is wrong, you look like an idiot.”—Raj Bhakta, founder, WhistlePig Whiskey

20. Communication

“If people aren’t aware of your expectations, and they fall short, it’s really your fault for not expressing it to them. The people I work with are in constant communication, probably to a fault. But communication is a balancing act. You might have a specific want or need, but it’s superimportant to treat work as a collaboration. We always want people to tell us their thoughts and ideas—that’s why we have all these very talented people working with us.”—Kim Kurlanchik Russen, partner, TAO Group

21. Accountability 

“It’s a lot easier to assign blame than to hold yourself accountable. But if you want to know how to do it right, learn from financial expert Larry Robbins. He wrote a genuinely humble letter to his investors about his bad judgment that caused their investments to falter. He then opened up a new fund without management and performance fees—unheard of in the hedge fund world. This is character. This is accountability. It’s not only taking responsibility; it’s taking the next step to make it right.”—Sandra Carreon-John, senior vice president, M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment

22. Restlessness

“It takes real leadership to find the strengths within each person on your team and then be willing to look outside to plug the gaps. It’s best to believe that your team alone does not have all the answers— because if you believe that, it usually means you’re not asking all the right questions.”—Nick Woolery, global director of marketing, Stance Socks

Interesting and insightful views on leadership qualities as relayed in the March 2016 issue of Entrepreneur

3 Things You Should Know About Your Team Members


It's interesting to hear about the ways in which managers view their team members. In my experience the views that have passed my way have been anywhere from 'my team members are invaluable and I couldn't do my job without them' to 'not sure who they are but they are here to do a job and make me look good' and everything in between.  

Essentially, to managers their teams are assets but the question is, how much do they really know about those assets and does it matter? 

I believe that it does matter because after all, people - team members or otherwise - get a great sense of being valued when another person knows and remembers what is important to them in their lives and careers. We've all seen this in action right? And many of us will have been on the receiving end of a comment or remark which demonstrated that the person talking, has taken the time to seek and retain the thing(s) that are important to us. No doubt about it, it feels good (so long as it's not the spooky, stalker type person you've been trying to avoid). 

But to get to know someone successfully and with integrity takes skill and some investment in your time, Get it right and you'll reap the benefits tenfold in return. Did anyone say it was going to be easy? No, but read on regardless.

“So much of what we call management consists in making it difficult for people to work.”
— Peter Drucker

If businesses are to survive and thrive in today's competitive and cutthroat working environment, their managers and leaders need to possess, or acquire, a point of difference that stretches beyond product offerings and externally focused services.  No organisation is successful without people.  Yet people are mobile and can flit from organisation to organisation - or manager to manager, at a drop of a hat.  So making it easy for people to want to follow you, support you, do a great job for you and most importantly stay with you, is a very strong and effective point of difference if achieved. 

So 'what' and 'how' I hear you say.  

Glad you asked.  Here are three ways to make a start:

1   Know WHO they are 

Seems straightforward right? Wrong.

Establishing who someone in your team is takes more that just asking the question 'who are you'.  And, I'm not sure about you but in my experience, asking this question of anyone is a sure fire way to draw that conversion to a halt tout-de-suit. 

But what you would want to achieve would be to engage with them one on one and speak freely with them about yourself and ask them about themselves. In particular get to know about their family, what they do beyond working for you, their likes and dislikes. Do this at opportune moments (rather than adopt a stalker like stance), frequently and be authentically interested in them and you will soon form a picture of who they really are. So many times I hear managers say they never had the time to get to 'know' their team members after they have left them and they thought that "they loved it here and didn't think of leaving". Don't let this be you.

2   Know what they AREN'T saying

Give your full attention to the team member you are speaking to by being present in the conversation. Thinking about the five trillion things you've got to do or should be doing while you're speaking to them shows, so stop it. This is their time and you may miss out on valuable information and cues if you aren't focussed on what is being said and most importantly, what ISN'T being said.  

So adopt a generous and mindful attitude towards the person you are listening to, by giving your full attention to them and you may be pleasantly surprised with the results. 

3   Know Where THEIR Future Lies

Typically part of a managers or leaders role is to undertake workforce planning activities to ensure that they have what resources they need, when they need it.  But all too often the members of their team who may be part of the plan, aren't consulted. Whilst there are no assurances that the plan will be executed as it is intended,  it is vital that you are aware of where your team member feels that their future lies. 

A great example of failure in this regard is succession planning. Succession or replacement plans are the most frequently anecdotalised (if that's a word) sets of data ever to exist.  Sure, a plan is just that and there are no assurances but it is essential that people plans factor in the individual's plans - whether these lie with your organisation or not, as well as yours.  All too often people managers place their heads in the sand and don't want to think about what would happen if their team members left them.

My advice? Pull that cranium from grainy stuff and ask them. Then be comfortable with the outcome and work this into your plan. More importantly, if 'present' in the conversation about their plans, you will establish if there are any critical interventions required to retain your key talent and also, anything that ISN'T being said...

Now that alone is worth ten minutes of mindfulness and a coffee and macaron with your team member.