Three Qualities of Great Leaders

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Over the last decade, we’ve seen big companies and small companies flop. When I got into the B2B world around 2008, I focused in Automotive, and companies were going belly up almost daily. Survival was tough for many companies. Since we lived through this period, I think it’s easier now than ever to see the characteristics of great leaders.

You are probably reading this now because you want to know what the key is to being a leader. This is tough, because there is no checklist to make you be a great leader. You may want to know what the behaviors of strong leaders are, and I may be able to identify a few of those behaviors/qualities. If you want to learn about the secret sauce in being a great leader, I would like to share with you some of my observations of great leaders and their behaviors.

There are hundreds of great books on business and leadership. One of the recent books I read that resonated with me was by Jim Collins called Great by Choice. In this book, Jim describes a triad of behaviors that 10X Leaders have. 10X Leaders are the type of leaders we should all aspire to be and they have helped companies to achieve tremendous growth and defend their market share against competing companies. The triad of behaviors Collins describes includes these three categories: Fanatic Discipline, Productive Paranoia, and Empirical Creativity. Each one of these behaviors he describes is a characteristic he observed great leaders possessing.

After reading Great by Choice, I reflected on how these behaviors apply to businesses that I’ve been a part of or worked with over the last several years. The businesses that stand out to me are the ones that Collins describes as having these qualities: discipline, productivity, and creativity. Now this is probably not earth-shattering, but let me give you an example of this in action.

A small business owner that shows up every morning before his/her employees, pushes and challenges their team with data driven results while looking forward to embracing new technologies. This leader would be looking internally to drive process enhancements, while looking and exploring externally for new tools and process enhancements.

Great leaders are not always CEO’s of Fortune 500 Companies. Great leaders often run successful small businesses, or sometimes great leaders are your coaches and teachers.

When I reflect on the most impressive organizations that I’ve been a part of, or intimately observed, I can without a doubt guarantee that the leaders demonstrated these qualities.

  • Militant Like Discipline
  • Energetic Paranoia
  • Creativity

I want you to take one of the topics from the bullets above and focus on that area for one week. No matter how large or small your role in a group is, you can work on developing your leadership skills. If you are not currently active with any formal leadership role, you can apply this to your leadership role in your family or personal life. An example for non-formal leaders is to make it a rule to give five unsolicited compliments by the end of each day.


Jesse has helped hundreds of dealerships across the country with their business. Jesse works for one of the leading web-based application companies in the automotive industry. The opinions expressed here do not reflect current or previous employers.

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