The 10 Qualities of a Leader

Soul

“Poor leadership will wreck even the most sound strategy” - Sun Tzu

We live in an era where information is unlimited, speed of service is unparalleled, and accessibility to education is at an all-time high.

If you want an answer to a question, google it. If you want a product, go to amazon. If you need a ride, Uber it. If you want to learn something, Youtube it, or get an online course. 

My point is if you want a million dollars, a six-pack, or peace of mind, it is not because you don’t have access to the information on how to get all three. 

You clearly have the tools to find the answer, but you lack the resourcefulness, self-discipline, and desire to find out how to do it on your own. 

You simply don’t know how to lead yourself.

You don’t have self-reliance.

You are too busy waiting on someone to grab your hand and walk you through the next step. 

Surprise! Life is not kind to people who wait for hand me downs. Life does not give back to people who are not willing to earn it on their own. 

You need to “lead yourself.”

I am not saying that you should not ask for help, nor accept it.  We all need some guidance. But at the end of the day, your success all falls on you, so you need to own it. 

You need to do the work and execute. Finish the fight. It is really that simple. 

And as Sun Tzu eloquently states in his quote, “poor leadership will wreck even the most perfect plan” 

And that is the core mission of this program. You can have all the knowledge and talent in the world, but if you can’t lead yourself to the promise-land by embodying the qualities I am about to mention, you will never get what you want and deserve out of life. 

So, whether you believe that you are a natural-born leader or not, always remember, great leaders are built not born.

They endure and outlast suffering. They adapt to the most gruesome and insurmountable circumstances. And above all, they find deeper meaning in their work. 

When you think of leaders like:

Think about the qualities they embodied. 

They were the epitome of these characteristics we are about to describe.  

And remember, you can’t lead anyone else if you can’t lead yourself. 

So, if you are someone who has to provide, parent,  mentor, manage, or have other people who depend on you, I gently suggest you live these qualities with every fiber of your being. 

Just my two cents.

The Top Ten Qualities of a Great Leader

Reliability - No matter what, leaders show up. 

You can count on them, point-blank. 

Reliability is directly aligned to work ethic, loyalty, and teamwork. 

In the end, if you are reliable, that means you show up to work, regardless of the situation. 

We all have three types of friends:

  1. The ones that are not there when you need them. News flash, they aren’t really your friends. 
  2. The ones who are there for you when it is convenient to them. These people see you as the last man on the bench. They will call your number when they are up by twenty and the game is in hand. 
  3. The ones who show up through rain, sleet, snow. The second you send them that emergency text that says, I need your help. They don’t simply text back, they call you instead. They show up at your door.

Why is this relative to leadership? Because when you fall into category #3, people tend to follow you. They build an undying trust, that you will be there for them in a pinch. This relates to business, sport, relationships, etc. If you want to lead, be reliable. 

Humility - They have a white belt mentality. They are willing to listen and learn from everyone around them. 

They know when to step back and be a student and when to step forward and be the alpha. 

“Every man I meet is my master at some point. And knowing that I learn from him.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

When you are humble, you do not get caught up in titles or status. You treat everyone the same regardless of the initials they have after their last name. 

You give the janitor the same respect as the CEO. 

People follow the people who listen to them, who give them a platform to be heard. 

And listening is the first sign of humility. Being a leader is synonymous with being an exceptional student, and you can not be a pupil if you do not have the virtue of humility. 

Adaptability - They can adapt to any situation. They have the unique ability to reframe situations, improvise on the spot, and make things happen.

The only guarantee in your lifetime is “change”. Your career will change, your circle will change, your circumstances will change, the market will change, and times will change. 

It does not matter if you are a leader of a Fortune 500 company, a single parent, a superstar athlete, or a young kid trying to figure things out. You will be forced to adjust on the fly many times over. Learn how to adapt, overcome, and dominate. 

It is the number one skill for survival and thriving in your field of expertise.

Equanimity - The gift of keeping a balanced and disciplined mind in the face of any suffering. 

Great leaders understand that failure and triumph are both imposters. Both outcomes can seduce you into being too high or too low on yourself. Do not believe the hype. Embrace equanimity. 

Can you stay even-minded in the face of physical, financial, or emotional suffering? 

Can you keep your ego in check when the world is praising you? 

The quicker you understand that you will never be able to control another person’s actions, certain outcomes, or outside circumstances, the farther you will get in life. You may be able to influence these scenarios, but that is as far as it will go. Nothing is promised.

You can only control your mind and how you respond.

If you can master the skill of equanimity, you will build a level of mental toughness that people will envy you for.

The stoics were masters of their emotions. And possessing this skill is absolutely essential for any leader who is bound to experience criticism, triumph, tragedy, and failure.  

Authenticity - Many people have different definitions of authentic. I personally define authenticity as someone who uses their vulnerability to connect and help others. Just be real. 

People will follow you if you are genuine if you are human if you are relatable. So, do not be ashamed to share your struggle and make your failures transparent in light of helping another person. 

No one wants to follow a fake. And people are sharper than you think. They can see the wolf behind sheep’s clothing. 

Great leaders live what they say, and they share all the ugliness and beauty that comes with the journey. They do it for the sake of educating, inspiring, and elevating their tribe. 

Objectivity

Leaders know how to remove themselves emotionally from a situation and judge things for what they are, not what they want them to be. 

When our company was suffering and we were put in a situation where we had to lay people off or fire them, I posed them this question. If you were a consultant and we paid you to evaluate our company and make the necessary changes to elevate our performance, what would you do? 

Take all the emotion out of it. Remove all the history behind the relationships. Just put all the data in a vacuum and dissect the facts. What would you do? My partners would often relent and make the difficult decisions to turn our company around. 

I would pose my employees/healthcare providers a similar question, “If you had the choice to be treated by anyone in the world, would you go to you?” Their answer was the brutal wake-up call they needed to hear. It forced them to go outside of themselves and look at things with a non-biased perspective. 

If you want to be a leader, you need to see things outside a self-serving lens. 

Selflessness

“Leaders eat last.” – Simon Sinek

Choosing serving over status will make you a leader through anyone’s eyes. When you strictly focus on serving, providing, teaching, or mentoring the people around you, great things happen. When you have tunnel vision to solve a problem in the market that could make things easier for your community, great things happen. That is exactly how world-class leaders are born and empires are built. 

Efficiency

Many people work hard, but few work-smart. The great ones know how to do both. 

When you are in a position of leadership you are constantly pulled in so many directions. You have limited time and will power. It is absolutely adamant that you are efficient with everything you do. 

Your business operational systems, financial systems, your meetings need to be well-oiled machines. Your diet, your habits, and your training is no different. Everything has its place. Everything has its use. And everything produces your desired results, excellence.

Courage

Warriors fight scared. Athletes play hurt. Entrepreneurs launch their company knowing they can lose it all. But they still pushed forward. Their purpose dwarfs any temporary bout of anxiety or uncertainty. 

They recognize that being scared is temporary but living in fear is a state of being. And that state of being can lead to a life of timidity if let it linger. And the life of quiet desperation would be utter misery. 

And this is why they choose courage. It is not because there is an absence of apprehension, self-doubt, or fear. They simply choose courage over them all. 

Work ethic

In the end, all great men and women are alike, they all worked countless hours and found deeper meaning in their work. It was not “work” to them; it was their “calling”. 

Saying success is a product of hard work may be disturbingly cliché, but it is a cliché for a reason. It is an undeniable truth. 

If you look at the history of leaders in sport, business, music, art, etc there is one common denominator. It is an ungodly level of work ethic. They simply outworked their competition and their skills were too loud to be ignored. The world had to take notice of their unique genius and the general public followed suit. 

If you want respect from your peers, put in your reps. Hard work is often linked to commitment, grit, and those qualities evolve into excellence. If you are known for your work ethic, you are usually a man worth being listened to, emulated, and adored.