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Leadership Qualities That Inspire Growth

A good leader impresses you with their capacity. On the other hand, a great leader can impress you by helping you better see who you are. They make you feel good about yourself and help you realize the possibility within you. Successful leaders demonstrate five leadership qualities in their personal and professional lives, inspiring others to act and set a course for future success.

Be a Winner

As a leader, you have to set up everything to win. There is no second place. If you allow the second place to take root in your mind, your team can see, hear, and feel it. Good leaders settle. Great leaders play to win at all costs. They take time to do contingency planning. They'll then take serious action.

They create enough of a plan to get started and then take action to test the plan's viability and make proactive adjustments to ensure success. Great leaders seek the answers to questions no one is asking yet and always look to the future. For example, Tom Brady was once asked about his six Super Bowl rings and which one was his favorite. He answered number seven.

Great leaders plan to win everything. They put together thorough plans and anticipate countless contingencies. You must prepare your mind and body to win.

Nothing in this world tastes like winning. Winning is unrelenting and elusive and will ask you for everything. It will leave you feeling ill if you fall short. Settling with failure is not an option, nor is winning a destination. 

Have you taught your team how to win?

Tell the Truth 

Good leaders sugarcoat the truth often. When someone has been performing to a mediocre standard, they don't confront the issues at hand.

Great leaders set clear expectations, train people, to achieve those standards, and help them at every step. This includes countless blunt conversations about performance – these are two-way conversations.

Michael Jordan had two personalities as a leader: one on the court and one off the court. He was a relentless truth-teller off the court and was an inspiring teammate and leader when the pressure was on during game time. In both situations, he told the truth. He just modified his approach to attain the best results.

People need to hear the truth more than ever without all the sugar in today's world. That's why it's equally important as a leader to learn the proper ways to give consistent candid feedback with truth without having to be like Mike. 

Will the truth set your team free?

They Put Themselves First

Good leaders hide behind their team and the currency of being busy. They'll invest time and dollars in sales training, implementing enhancement tools, being in meetings for others, and managing the boss's expectations. 

Great leaders consistently look to help their team find and stay in the zone. Great leaders invest in themselves. First, they seek the best advice, coaching, and ways to get better on a regular occurrence. Great leaders also create time to be alone to think and plan to be more productive. Finally, they use every nook and cranny to improve. 

They carry this approach with their team and invest in those willing to be supported. This often leads to being out of balance in life to be successful. So, they take on the extra tasks of reading, listening, and seeking great advice, often at the expense of doing something more exciting.

When I look back at my time in the Marines, the mission was accomplished when I put myself first. In Biological warfare training, if you sensed a toxic gas, you had to put on your gas mask first before you helped anyone else, or everyone would die. The same thing applies to jumping out of a helicopter. Every Marine was a leader. You had to ensure your gear was in order before inspecting others. 

When was the last time you invested in yourself?

Love the Fight

Good leaders face conflict and often back down, all for the greater good. They'll create excellent excuses because it wasn't the right time. Alternatively, great leaders see conflict as an opportunity to sharpen their skills. Every single day is a fight. Someone is trying to beat your team in every corner of the marketplace. It can be challenging to face relentless negative prospecting situations, deal negotiations, extreme competition, high emotions with peers, broken rules, or losing a deal at the 11th hour. 

Great leaders prepare their teams for battle daily.

My former mentor Joe Foglio was a great man of character; he was God-fearing and was known by thousands of people as having a huge caring heart. However, what few people learned was how much he loved the fight. Joe never backed down from a challenging situation or conversation and still always left the other party feeling better every time.

Joe sought out differences of opinion. He viewed the healthy conflict as an opportunity to share new ideas, win people's hearts and minds, and keep himself in tip-top fighting shape.

In business, every day is a fight. So Joe coined the phrase, "do one more thing, one more time." This was Joe's way of fighting every day.

How much does your team understand the battle and love to fight the good fight?

Strategic Execution

Good leaders try to stay in one bucket most of the time. But unfortunately, many leaders play in the strategy bucket. They often spend most of their time convincing everyone why something is so wrong and why they need to make several strategic changes. Or they'll spend most of their time managing the people.

Great leaders know where to focus the strategy and execute it daily. While performing, they're taking notes, making minor and sometimes bold adjustments, and prepping the organization for significant changes in the future.

Cael Sanderson is the only college wrestler to go undefeated and has coached countless Penn State teams to eight national titles in the last ten years. Cael is always making tweaks to his teams and their lineups and matchups. He's a master chess player. They'll lose critical matches during the regular season, and a few weeks later, his wrestlers will overcome those odds to win when it counts in the Championships.

Great leaders know the strategy cold and execute it daily. While executing, they're looking at the results, making minor adjustments, and prepping the organizational culture for future changes. 

Great leaders don't just sit around envisioning outcomes. They act.

How well does your team move in harmony while executing the plan?

Final Thoughts

These are just a few observations that separate good leaders from great. However, when I heard PJ Fleck, Head Coach of the Minnesota Gophers football team, speak, something shook me. He asked the audience of around 1,000 people how many knew their great-great-grandfathers and all they accomplished. How many of Thomas Edison's great-great-grandchildren know him? What legacy will you leave to be remembered?

If you have other great examples of what separates good from great leaders, post them in the comments or reach out directly. We want to hear from you.

About Steve Hoeft

Steve is a Partner, VP Client Services at Pivotal Advisors. Leadership has been forefront in his career for over 20 years. He has also been a Vice President of Sales for a number of companies in Minnesota. Steve has been a guest speaker for many groups such as Sales Leaders Roundtable, Trust Vets, Marine Corps Events and more. If you want to find out more about Steve check out his profile here.
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