Characteristics that Define Successful Leaders
“Competitive greatness is being your best when your best is needed.” – John Wooden
Coach Wooden’s philosophy was to focus entirely on the individual becoming their absolute best; winning was the result of being your absolute best. If the score of the game was not in your favor but you did your best, then you lost the game but won the battle.
We are fortunate to have great leaders in Brevard County and as a result, there have been many outstanding accomplishments here – e.g. we went to the moon from here; we have the state’s top school system; and we are number one in technology and manufacturing statewide. The men and women who have been, and are, our leaders are the ones who “get it” and they can be easily identified – they possess the following characteristics that I believe define them and their organizations. Duplicate these values in your life and organization with consistent discipline, allow enough time to be added to the equation, and you too can achieve great things.
Be Purpose Driven – Leaders know where they are going and the purpose is more than getting rich. Money never creates a purpose, instead it can be the result of “doing the right things right for the right purpose.” Success is the progressive realization of a worthy goal. The worthy goal has to be your purpose or, better defined, your passion has to be greater than what can be defined by words.
I am reminded of the story of two little boys – 8 and 9 years old – that were playing one winter day on an iced-over pond. Suddenly, the ice broke and the 8-year-old fell through into the dark water as the ice patch slipped right back into place like a door shutting. With nobody around to help, the 9-year-old, desperate to save his friend, ran to the closest tree, tore off a limb, ran to the ice break, and began to beat on the ice. He broke open a four-foot hole and then was able to reach down, grab his friend by the back of his coat and pull him to safety. As a crowd gathered and the boy was stabilizing, people began to notice the tree limb – almost four inches thick and not dead – as well as the thickness of the ice. In unison they began to ask how it was possible that the 9-year-old was able to accomplish what he did. An elderly gentleman spoke up and said, “He accomplished what he did because nobody was present to tell him it was impossible.” This is what it means to be “purpose driven.”
Have Expectations – Leaders who have realistic and clear expectations for themselves and those they lead develop organizations that accomplish great things. These organizations seem to just get things done that other groups consistently fall short in accomplishing.
Read – One of the best comments I have ever heard is: “The view is a lot clearer when standing on top of the books you have read.” You can never stop learning. All the knowledge of the world has been written, most of it many times over. If you are reading this article you are investing in your future success. We must learn from each other and from those who have gone before us; history has a way of repeating itself with unlearned lessons. The reason generations advance is they learn from the knowledge passed along by prior generations.
Be Disciplined – Discipline is the ability to accomplish the little things daily; it is the accumulation of little things that make great things happen. Most people observe a successful event and want to repeat that same success, not realizing the countless number of hours it has taken in practice, the defeats and failures suffered along the way, and the discipline to persevere in order to make the successful event possible. Life and business is a process, not an event, and in order to accomplish great goals one must possess the discipline for the fundamentals that will make the goal a reality.
Avoid Distractions – Hold on to your vision despite distractions, which become visible when our eyes come off the target. One of the biggest issues today is that we have no vision for our future. What is our target, our goal? Learn the difference between distractions and legitimate directions worth pursuing. We are all busy people in every facet of life, but ask yourself, “What am I busy doing?” The answer will help determine if the issue at hand is a distraction trap or a viable course.
Calvin Coolidge stated, “Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”
So what are you busy doing?