I have had the opportunity to work with and interact with some incredible leaders over the years. The more you hang out with a particular group of people, the more you begin to see patterns and similarities in key areas. The following are some key areas of commonality I have encountered among some great leaders that are worth considering and embracing:
1. Great Leaders Balance Their Energy:
Too many people spend too much energy simply being busy. There is a big difference between working busy and working smart. When you are constantly saying that you are “too busy” you are right! Great leaders work smart, delegate well and balance their input and output. If you are constantly running on adrenaline, you are depleting your cognitive abilities to react and respond well. Just like the damage a car would experience if it ran at 10k RPMs constantly, eventually the human body will “burn up” and “melt down.” We hear people say, “I hit the wall,” or “I burnt out,”or “I crashed.” Those are all very visual analogies describing what happens when leaders don’t manage their energies. Great leaders make sure that they are building margin into their lives by rest, exercise, meditation, study, and even scheduling people loads that are doable. When a leader has energy they lead from a place of health and centeredness instead of chaos and reaction.
“Just as your car runs more smoothly and requires less energy to go faster and farther when the wheels are in perfect alignment, you perform better when your thoughts, feelings, emotions, goals, and values are in balance.” ~Brian Tracy
2. Great Leaders Focus on Their Strengths:
Most of the great leaders I have encountered focused on leading from their strengths and not trying to conquer and reform their weaknesses. This is not to say that they were unaware, ignorant or indifferent to their weaknesses. They continued to grow and improve, but by concentrating more on what they were good at propelled them much farther than they would have gone if they were more concerned about improving their areas of weakness. Most of the great leaders surrounded themselves with people who were strong where they were weak and empowered them in those areas. This way everyone including the organization as a whole experienced growth and forward movement. This requires a good sense of self-awareness and an ability to put the ego aside and acknowledge your weaknesses and allow for others to excel where you are not as well gifted.
“The great mystery isn’t that people do things badly but that they occasionally do a few things well. The only thing that is universal is incompetence. Strength is always specific! Nobody ever commented, for example, that the great violinist Jascha Heifetz probably couldn’t play the trumpet very well.” ~ Peter Drucker
3. Great Leaders Limit Negative Thinking:
This is so important. I have never met a great leader who has a negative attitude or outlook. Negativity breeds pessimism, defeatism, and can destroy a marriage, team or organization. Great leaders exhibit an ability to see beyond the obstacles, through the valleys, and above the dirt of the ground floor. They have a 30 thousand foot view of things and choose to limit negative thoughts. This does not mean that they are in denial, no, rather they choose to believe in something bigger than themselves and tenaciously cling onto faith and hope in their vision. The person who thinks it can’t be done and the person who thinks it can be done are both right. We establish our outcomes by the way we frame our thought processes. Think small and receive small. Think big and receive big. Great leaders make positive thinking and positive interactions a daily necessity.
“Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will.” ~Zig Ziglar
4. Great Leaders Focus On Something Bigger Than Themselves:
Truly great leaders live for something bigger than themselves. Something grander than money. Something beyond self gratification. They long to see people helped, communities healed, injustice dealt with and the marginalized empowered. These leaders have a sense of “God” and calling in their lives. They know that their own life is not an accident and that they have a divine purpose to fulfill before they breathe their last breath. This drives them to accomplish great things aided by the divine power that God infuses them with. If your greatest dream is to win the powerball your vision is too small. Powerball thinkers never accomplish anything because they think change is connected to money. Money follows vision…vision never follows money.
“Dream no small dreams for they have no power to move the hearts of men.” ~ Goethe
5. Great Leaders Empower Others:
Leadership is not about tasks, it is about empowering others. The great leaders experience exponential growth because they do not limit themselves to what they alone can do, instead they empower others and this creates a tidal-wave of compounding returns. Equipping, delegation, time investment, and relational care are the tools to empower the people around us. When leaders micro-manage and keep their fingers intertwined in key areas they are choosing to limit growth and success. Empowering the right people is perhaps the fastest road to success.
“Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish.” ~Sam Walton
6. Great Leaders Hang Out With Great Leaders:
Are you always helping someone who is needy? Are you constantly the only one in your circle who is giving advice, consolation and help? If you have surrounded yourself with friends who are less successful than you then you will cease to grow as a better leader. We need to be investing in those who are not yet at our level, but we also must have relationships that are pouring into and improving us as well. Great leaders tend to hang out with other leaders who are as successful or more successful for the most part.
“Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don’t interfere as long as the policy you’ve decided upon is being carried out.” ~Ronald Reagan
7. Great Leaders Work Hard:
For a great leader there is no such thing as luck, only hard work positioned and employed at the right times and with consistency and perseverance. These leaders know that things don’t just drop from the sky, even though it might seem that way to those who look at their lives. Rolled up sleeves and worn out knees are the trademark of great leaders. They are not afraid to work and never look for the easiest route. Instead, they work hard to ensure no corners were cut, and integrity has the final word on what they are accomplishing. While great leaders work hard, remember that since they balance their energy and work smart, it appears that they have available time to enjoy life, and guess what? They do!
“Leaders aren’t born they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that’s the price we’ll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal.” ~Vince Lombardi