They are realistically positive. A great leader doesn’t have
pie-in-the-sky optimism, thinking that everything will always turn out
for the best. But great leaders do believe in the great possibility of
success and are willing to take the actions necessary to get there.
They expect things to turn out well and have confidence in their own
abilities to make that happen.
They inspire, they don’t dictate. Great leaders are there to help,
but they encourage people to solve their own problems. If someone
comes to them with a problem, they say, “What do you think you
should do?” They know how to inspire somebody to get motivated so
that the person becomes excited about the possibilities that lay
They surround themselves with success. They create a very strong
environment where they live and where they work. They are focused
on keeping things around that elevate their success. They also
surround themselves with other successful people. They share ideas
with others in their industry and welcome input from their peers and
They have a passion for what they do. Passion means having a
deep love, respect, and commitment for what you do personally and
professionally. It’s possible to be a leader at something you hate,
but not for long. Some people find their passion very early in life; others
wander from here to there until they discover their life’s work.
But all great leaders eventually find vocations they truly love. They
are excited and enthusiastic about what they do, and they pass that on
to those around them. Once a person discovers his or her passion in
life, it becomes like a magnet, drawing them inevitably closer to
success, and drawing others along with them.
They communicate and speak from the heart. They are able to
connect with people. The greatest leaders are the ones who are
spontaneous. They know their overall mission, they know what they
want to say, and they can say it without depending solely on a written
script. They have a message that they want to share that comes from
their passion, and they can share it without preaching or shouting.
Their sincerity comes through in their words as well as in their
They have goals and a vision. They focus on what they want to
achieve, establish priorities, and know what they have to do in order
to keep moving forward. They always have a specific destination in
mind. Their goals provide them with purpose and allow them to
wake up each morning energized and looking forward to the tasks
they know must be accomplished that day. Leaders are part of teams,
and their goals are tied in with the goals of the team.
They achieve plans through their people, not for them. There is
an old saying that goes, “If you want something done right, do it
yourself.” That is the mantra of a perfectionist, not a leader. Leaders
let their people do what they were hired for, even if it means that
they make the occasional mistake. They are grateful for what they
have been able to achieve, and are happy to help others do the same.
Great leaders are able to see the potential in other people, and to
allow them the time and space they need to develop it. As William
H. Dan forth, the founder of Ralston Purina and author of I Dare You!
once said, “Catch a passion for helping others and a richer life will
come back to you.”
They are bone honest. They say what they mean and they mean
what they say. Jimmy Johnson, coach of the Dallas Cowboys,
believes that this is the way to motivate people. Each year, during
training camp, he has to encourage nervous, anxious rookies. So at
the end of day, he’ll tell each one about the good things they did on
the field that day and say, “We think you can play here. We like you.”
They maintain a sense of humor. Humor breaks down barriers. I
was conducting a seminar recently for a Fortune 500 company. At the
company-wide meeting before the seminars began, the CEO took part
in a skit in which he made fun of himself. He took a risk doing this,
as it might have made him appear foolish. But it had the opposite
effect. It took him out of the category of CEO and made him appear
human. It made him seem like a real, approachable person and
transformed his employees’ feelings toward him. Great leaders aren’t
funny all the time (they take their business very seriously). They don’t
necessarily have a great sense of humor?but they know when a little
levity can ease a tense situation and make everyone feel a bit more
They cultivate awareness. Leaders concentrate on the big picture,
and all their actions are geared towards turning that picture into
reality. They are often visionaries, and can see the great possibilities
that can come from staying on the path they have undertaken. They
see themselves as successful before they ever reach their goals. They
are constantly looking out for the opportunities that surround them so
that they can steer their ship in the right direction.
Great leaders hire great people. Great leaders know their own
weaknesses, and hire people whose strengths fill in the gaps. They’re
not interested in “yes men” or people who do nothing but make the
leader look good. They want people who fill in any gaps and make the strongest team possible.
Leaders are mentors and leaders have mentors. When leaders
have problems, they have a core group of people the can call upon
for help and advice. Every leader has to make difficult decisions. It’s
always good to consult someone who’s been there before, someone
who’s wiser and more experienced than you. Leaders are also
mentors to others. They are as generous with their wisdom as others
are with theirs.
They are constantly learning. Leaders are readers. They read
about their industry. They read about current events. They read about
history. They read biographies of men and women who have
accomplished much in their lives. They learn by taking action.
Nothing teaches better than experience, and great leaders are
constantly open to new experiences. They explore new interests.They learn new skills for business and for pleasure.
They practice the fundamentals of their business so that once learned, they have a skill for life.
They have faith in themselves first. Great leaders have to have faith in themselves and in their abilities because they communicate this faith to those around them.
They deliver on promises, or they don’t make them. Great
leaders do not make promises lightly. They know that they will
remain leaders only as long as they have the trust and loyalty of their
“followers.” If they break their word, they break that trust.
They are flexible. Great leaders know that there are always many
ways to accomplish a task or reach a goal. If one way doesn’t work,
they will try another. They adapt to changing markets, products, and
competition. They understand that their way isn’t the only way, nor
necessarily the best way. They are open to new ideas and input, and
listen to all suggestions even if those suggestions come from
They are focused. Leaders get things done. They are people of
action. Other people may say about a leader, “Sure, he can be
abrasive (or whatever flaw he may have)?but he gets things done.”
Leaders don’t just jump into action without thought; they evaluate
situations and take calculated risks. They know that failure is always
a possibility, but they aim straight for success.
They are flawed, but they have diamond potential. They know
themselves. They gain respect by admitting their weaknesses, and
they work toward improving those areas. Leaders who think they are
perfect soon learn otherwise.
They understand that recognition is a powerful motivator. Everyone needs praise and recognition.
They expect excellence and push beyond. They expect the best
from their people, and gently push them toward it. We don’t always
recognize our own capabilities. A great leader has the ability to see
what others can’t see in themselves and helps them cultivate those
They turn adversity into opportunity. When things go wrong?and
they do?they look for the lessons that can be learned. Some people
see the difficulties in every opportunity, but great leaders see the
opportunities in every difficulty. They experience depression and
disappointment like everyone else, but they don’t let those feelings
overwhelm their desire to succeed. They may be down, but they’ll be
They have fun. They know that life is short, and they are
determined to live life to its fullest. They enjoy playing the game, and
they know that means that sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.
They thrive on the exhilaration of life’s ups and downs, whether
they’re at work or at play.
Sources: Diamond Power: Gems of Wisdom From
America’s Greatest Marketer by arry Farber