Seven Traits of Great Leaders

  1. Great leaders identify, cultivate, and inspire enthusiastic followers. Some people are successful but are not leaders. They work best on their own and enrich themselves. Great leaders enlist the cooperation, support, and loyalty of others. Few businesses can survive and thrive without people to carry out the leaders’ programs. Good leaders not only understand their employees, but motivate them to do their very best work.

  2. Great leaders focus their efforts. Good leaders concentrate their efforts to reach goals. Those who do not focus their efforts will never achieve marked success in anything. No one is large enough to be split into many parts; and the sooner we stamp this truth upon our minds, the better our chances for success. Waste comes with trying to do too many things at once.

  3. Great leaders face and overcome great difficulties. Adversity can destroy some people, but all good leaders have faced adversity and bounced back to greater glories. Change those stumbling blocks to stepping stones on the path to success. Strive vigorously to use everything that comes to you, whether pleasant or unpleasant, to your advantage. Do not allow an unpleasant letter, a disagreeable criticism, an uncharitable remark, or another trial to cloud your day. If you can make no other use of your misfortune, use it as a point of departure for a new and determined effort.

  4. Great leaders expect more from themselves than they do from others. Great leaders set an example for their followers by demanding more of themselves. They work more hours, take on more challenges, initiate more programs, and give the full measure of their energies to their work.

  5. Great leaders are not afraid to make tough decisions. Whether leading a nation or a corporation, every day the leader faces problems that require decisions. In some cases there is adequate time to think, assess, and evaluate all of the circumstances surrounding the problem, but quite often an immediate decision is needed. The good leader must make such decisions.

  6. Great leaders have a vision and utmost faith in themselves to fulfill that vision. Great leaders have all had their visions. They knew what they wanted to accomplish, visualized its outcome, and devoted all their energies and emotions to accomplish that vision. Most important, they truly believed in their own capability to do this. It makes a great difference whether you go into a thing to win, with clienched teeth and the vision of winning firmly in your mind. Determination to win is half the battle.

  7. Great leaders are ambitious for themselves, their companies, and their people. One of the saddest things in life is to see men and women with a faded ambition, a lost life aim. No quality requires more guarding than ambition. It will not live and keep growing if it is not nourished; and the moment we begin to disregard it, we begin to go downhill. If your ambition is not alive, you should strengthen it in every possible way. Visualize the thing you want to be; keep it in your mind constantly; and work for it with all your might.

Source: Ken Shelton, originally published in Executive Excellence Magazine