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.

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Great By Choice

Book Review – Great By Choice By Jim Collins

This is a review of the book Great by Choice. Jim Collins describes what behaviors a 10X leader has. He also provides additional stories related to the ideas and concepts in the book.


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The Role of Story Telling and Why It’s Important

Have you ever found yourself having to sell a product or service to someone who just does not want to buy it? Have you found yourself in a conversation with a person who just does not see your point of view, and the conversation seems hopeless?

I’ve found myself in these types of situations almost daily. There are so many things that we do naturally to try to change the person’s attitude, mindset or opinion. I think I’m like any other person who just feels that, through conversation and persistence, maybe–just maybe–this person will change.

If you’re in the business to grow and develop your career, having awareness of communication blocks is important. For me, I am continuing to develop my persuasion skills. I’m aware of this area that needs improvement, and I believe I’ve found an easy way to improve my persuasion skills.

I’ve recently read several books on communication. One that I found most interesting was Lead with a Story: A Guide to Crafting Business Narratives that Captivate, Convince, and Inspire, by Paul Smith. In this book, there are several examples of stories which have been used to persuade, convince, and change people. I’ve learned several techniques that have helped me develop my skills related to communication.

One tip that I learned was to keep a story database. This is something that is new to me, and it makes sense. We all have had great experiences that turn into great stories. However, after some time we forget the details of the story that made the experience so exciting. What Smith recommends is recording these stories in your personal story database. Create a file which contains your greatest stories.

You may think that you’ll remember every good story there is. That is just not true. Can you remember a great story when you were faced with adversity, and had to change or adapt to overcome the challenge? You might be able to recall a story, but what if you could recall multiple stories? I’m not a proponent for writing everything down, but creating a journal-like database of great stories could be extremely useful.

When I tell a story, I often forget things like the context. I just go right into the action and results of the situation. Here’s an example: “Mr. Customer, you need this extended service plan so that you’re covered for five years.” What I missed was the context. Many people forget to include the context of the situation when telling a story. Remember to include the context of the situation in your story database. Use the acronym CAR, (C)ontext, (A)ction, (R)esults, when recording your story.

Stories are great for communication and persuasion. Stories are not weapons to violently move someone’s opinion, but stories may help people understand where you are coming from. Giving the person you’re speaking with an opportunity to relate and understand your opinion through a story may change the outcome of the interaction.

When you finish reading this article, create a story database file and record a story of your own.



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