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What Great Leaders Have In Common

Douglas Conant says that great leaders marry the head and the heart—that is, they simultaneously prioritize people and performance. How does that practically work? How can you recognize it when you see it? I collected the characteristics or actions of great leaders from assorted students of great leaders, and these are the traits/actions that repeatedly were mentioned. Why don’t you read down through them, and rate yourself 1-2-3. 1 is that you consistently display this trait, 2 is that you often do, but you need work. 3 means it is pretty much a fail for you.Then, after you honestly rate yourself, go back and pick the 3 to 5 areas you need to focus on improving in 2019. You can make a strategic plan.Great leaders . . .

  1. Prioritize building trust.

  2. Call themselves and the team to a high purpose.

  3. Create a clear and compelling direction.

  4. Confront the brutal facts and address them.

  5. Give swift, constructive, and continuous feedback.

  6. Energize and engage the players.

  7. Deliver—meet and exceed expectations.

  8. Make the mission more important than the leader.

  9. Work continually on their character.

  10. Refuse to make excuses.

  11. Clear away the fog and bring clarity.

  12. See opportunities where others see obstacles.

  13. Deliver on time—or ahead of time.

  14. Set their own agendas according to their priorities.

  15. Show up prepared.

  16. Develop their strengths instead of obsessing over their weaknesses.

  17. Invest in themselves and their own growth.

  18. Practice self-care.

  19. Are willing to be mis-understood.

  20. Do not lead alone; they develop a trusted inner circle.

  21. Push through their fears and do it anyway.

  22. Refuse to sling mud; they take the high road.

  23. Refuse to blame; they shoulder responsibility.

  24. Leave people and situations better than they found them.

  25. Learn people’s names.

  26. Help people who can’t help them.

  27. Are great on the job and at home.

  28. Create a safe place to speak up.

  29. Make timely and effective decisions.

  30. Challenge people to think.

  31. Are accountable to others.

  32. Lead by example.

  33. Recruit and deploy talent.

  34. Ask questions and seek counsel.

  35. Avoid procrastination.

  36. Measure and reward performance.

  37. Invest in relationships.

  38. Are great mentors.

  39. Bring positive energy and attitude.

  40. Genuinely love their jobs and responsibilities.

So, what do you think? How do you stack up? There are 40 traits here. If you gave yourself a 1, a strong rating on all of them, you are perfection. You should start your own leadership training organization and clone yourself. Or, more realistically, you should let someone who works for you score you. It might change your score a bit.If you gave yourself a 3 on all of them, you would have a score of 120, saying you are in the basement as a leader. You aren’t doing anything right. You know that’s not true. You wouldn’t be a leader at all if that were the case.Most of us will be somewhere in the middle. Celebrate your 1s! They are helping you make progress. The 2s and 3s are slowing you down. If you have 12 areas where you are scoring less than you would like, work on one a month in 2019. That will make you a dramatically better leader by the end of 2019. Everyone will thank you!

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