5 Critical Traits of Leadership

Five Critical Leadership Traits

Since we all love a good list, let’s get right to it! 

ACCOUNTABLE

The funny thing about leaders who practice Personal Accountability is that they don’t talk about it—they do it. Just like humble people don’t boast about their modesty, leaders don’t proclaim they take total ownership of their actions, results, and lives. They simply live without blame, finger-pointing, whining, playing victim, feeling entitled and offended, and excuses. Accountability is merely part of their very being.

Have you achieved accountable living?

CURIOUS

A mentor who taught me about selling also taught me to ask many questions of anyone I’d meet on sales calls. Picture a receptionist being queried, “When was this building built?” “How long has your firm been in business?” “Who founded it?” “What’s it like to work here?” “Who are your competitors?” It was an excellent way to break the ice and learn—all driven by curiosity.

Are you asking enough questions?

PURPOSEFUL

In the Outstanding! book, there’s a chapter about my dad, Jimmy Miller, the Cornell wrestling coach. He believed the key to teaching young boys the sport of grappling is to make clear WHY they’re on the mat. “You’re out there,” he’d coach them, “to put the other man on his back.” I’ve yet to meet a leader who fails to understand his or her mission. That is, they know WHY they exist.

Have you discovered your purpose?

ENERGETIC

As a child, I might’ve been ADHD. Labeled “hyper” by many, once I found my purpose, boundless energy carried me for many years. Now, in my sixties, it’s ebbed, and that’s okay. But you won’t meet many leaders—those who get stuff done—who lack energy. To quote Elvis, leaders are often “born standing up and talking back.” Their vigor, verve, and vitality serve them well.

Do you possess sufficient energy to tackle life?

CONTRARIAN

Being a leader and being “part of the pack” are mutually exclusive. Leaders understand that cutting against the grain is best, like sawing a plank. Leaders rarely go with the flow. They are better at changing the flow. Leaders are the salmon swimming upstream while all others head in the other direction. They do outstanding things because they stand out from the crowd.

Are you a conformer or a challenging contrarian?

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    Which of these leadership traits do you already possess, and which do you need to acquire?

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