Five Essential Qualities Of Great Leaders


The leaders of today, both in thought and in action, are real leaders in that they do not “drive” those who are under them. They encourage them to greater effort. That is a very important improvement of the old method. The person, who through fear, formerly was a reluctant employee now produces more with less effort because he labors willingly.

Charles Gow

charles-gowEver since the invention of the printing press in 1455 by Johann Gutenberg, thousands upon thousands of books and millions of articles have been printed on the subject of leadership. Many of the writings discuss what qualities differentiate great leaders from the average leaders. I must admit that over the past thirty years I have written more articles on leadership than any other topic. The reason I’m so passionate about the subject is because I believe leadership is the most critical quality for not only business success but also for America’s ultimate survival as well.

Few men and women are born leaders. Leadership is achieved by ability, alertness, experience, a knack for getting along with people, a clear head during stressful situations, and a hundred other qualities. It’s impossible to provide a short list of leadership qualities as the most important without causing a great deal of controversy. Nevertheless, here are five attributes which I believe are the most important for leaders to possess.

Great leaders must have a clear vision of what they desire to accomplish. Some of the greatest leaders the world has ever known were those individuals who visualized their success months, sometimes years, before it actually happened. Solomon wrote, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Likewise, leaders without vision never capture the will and enthusiasm of the people and will never be effective leaders. Edward Kramer wrote, “There are so many wonderful things in our everyday experience, lucrative opportunities, glorious occasions, that never come into existence because individuals do not have the vision for discerning them.”

Those leaders who do not possess a vision for their company and employees, will always have difficulty accomplishing any true greatness. A person’s dreams are an index to his or her greatness. However, no dream will ever come true unless we wake up and go to work.

On one of the walls in my office, I have this quote that George Bernard Shaw wrote in 1921: “Some men see things as they are and ask Why? I dream things that never were and ask, Why not?” I read the quote everyday I’m in my office. I also have the quote in my day planner so I can read it when I’m giving a keynote speech or conducting a workshop out of town. Don’t let anyone steal your dream. Great leaders are great dreamers.

Effective leaders are not afraid to challenge the existing norms. In actuality, great leaders look for opportunities to challenge the status quo. They look for innovative ways to improve the organization; and they realize that the only constant there is is change–that the only thing that will stay the same is the fact that very few things will stay the same. Because effective leaders have this philosophy about change, they know that when they take risks, they expose themselves to failure. However, they accept inevitable disappointments as learning opportunities.

Henry Ford

henry_ford_1919In the fall of 1931, Henry Ford gave a speech to introduce his dream to build a V-8 engine that would fit into a car that could be purchased by the general public. The V-8 engine existed in 1931 but the large engine was only placed in the larger and more expensive automobiles.

When Ford told his engineers of his idea, they explained to him that it could not be done. He instructed them to try and come back to him in a few months with the design. After three months, Ford’s engineers met with Ford once more told him that the V-8 was impossible to install in anything but a large automobile. Ford simply said, “Try again.” After two months of further research and design, the engineers once again met with Ford to tell him that the idea of placing a V-8 engine in a regular-size car was absolutely impossible. This time Ford told them, “I will give you three more months to figure out a way to get it done. If after three months, you cannot succeed, I am going to fire all of you and hire new engineers who share my vision and believe it can be done.” Five weeks later, on March 31, 1932, Henry Ford and his engineers introduced the small, V-8 engine to the world.

As Helen Keller said, “Imagination governs the world. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Only those who dare to accomplish the impossible are the individuals who truly live. What a person can imagine or conceive in his mind, he can accomplish.” As Einstein once said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing in the same way and expecting different results.”
I encourage everyone reading this article to not only think outside the box but to also imagine outside the universe.

Inspiring leaders enable others to act. Over the years, I’ve discovered that the leaders that I admire most have been those individuals who foster collaboration and build spirited teams. They actively involve others and they realize that mutual respect is what sustains extraordinary efforts. They strive to create an atmosphere of trust and human dignity. They strengthen others, making each person feel capable and powerful. In many cases, great leaders see the greatness in employees long before employees see it in themselves.

Wise leaders realize that they do not lead people–they lead individuals. They understand that different people are motivated by different things. They get to know their employees so they can adjust their motivation methods accordingly. Some people are motivated by money and others are motivated by recognition. Others by something entirely different.

In their book, Leadership: Magic, Myth or Method, J.W. McLean and William Weitzel reminds us that despite all that has been learned about motivation through pratical experience and through painstaking research, it must be admitted that there are few, if any, infallible methods for inspiring others to perform well every time. What worked well under one set of circumstances may fall short in another. The important thing to remember is to do it with them–not “to” them.

“Smart leaders put up signposts when people show signs that they are unsure of where to go or how to get there. They create special opportunities for victory.”

Great leaders model the way. Smart leaders of high-performing companies communicate their vision in their daily action. They realize that their title gives them authority but it’s their behavior that earns them respect. The foundation of leadership is not built by lecture, but by bricks of good example laid day by day.

Those individuals who have proven to be great leaders not only establish the way people should be treated and the way goals should be pursued, but they also are living examples as well. They create standards of excellence and then set an example for others to follow. They establish and reach interim goals so people can achieve small wins as everyone, as a team, works toward larger goals. As Barry Posner writes, “Wise leaders unravel bureaucracy when it impedes action. Smart leaders put up signposts when people show signs that are unsure of where to go or how to get there. They create special opportunities for victory.”

Francis d’Assisi

st-francis-de-assisiThere is a beautiful story about Francis d’Assisi. Francis invited a young man to accompany him on a walk to the city. Francis told the man that he was going into the city to preach on God’s love for mankind. Since the young man knew how famous Francis was with regard to his preaching, he could hardly contain himself as he prepared for the trip.

All day long, he and Francis walked through the streets, byways and alleys caring for the needs of the poor and helpless along the way. At day’s end, they headed back home. Not once did Francis address the gathering crowds, nor had he talked to anyone about the Gospel.

Greatly disappointed, his young companion said, “I thought you were going into town to speak. I was so excited to be able to finally hear you preach.” Francis responded, “My son, we did preach. We were preaching while we were walking. We were watched by many and our behavior was closely observed. It is of no use to walk anywhere to preach unless we preach everywhere as we walk. We must preach always about the love of God for us. And then, as a last resort, we can fall back on words rather than action.”

“Do you bring people up or down? This may be the most important question a leader can ask of himself or herself. One of the most meaningful things we can do is to celebrate another person’s success.”
Roger Ailes

Wise leaders encourage the heart. It’s getting harder and harder for organizations to hit their sales goals, to keep customers happy, and to maintain a high level of positive attitude during a tough economy. Today, accomplishing extraordinary things in organizations is very hard work. To keep hope and determination alive, great leaders recognize contributions that individuals make. In every winning team, the members need to share in the rewards of their efforts, so leaders celebrate accomplishments. If leaders want to be followed, they must make people feel like heroes.

Noted speaker and author, Roger Ailes, asks this penetrating question. “Do you bring other people up or down?” This may be the most important question a leader must ask himself or herself. One of the most meaningful things we can do is to celebrate another person’s success. At times, it can also be very difficult. Consider the following:

Forty thousand baseball fans were in attendance in the Oakland stadium in 1982 when Ricky Henderson broke Lou Brock’s single season stolen base record. Lou Brock stopped playing baseball in 1979 but faithfully followed Henderson’s prestigious career and was excited about Henderson’s goal to tie and then break the record. Lou Brock was quoted in USA Today as saying, “I’ll be there at the game when Ricky breaks my record. Ricky did in twelve years what took me nineteen years. Ricky is amazing.”

Imagine how Ricky Henderson felt knowing the person whose stolen base record he was about to break, was excited about his achievements and that Lou would be there at the game to see him do it. Envy or jealousy may have been a more natural emotion for Lou Brock. However, encouragers set self-interests aside and rejoice in the success and happiness of others.

Do you have the qualities of a great leader? America needs more leaders–not more managers. Managers work on projects. Leaders develop people. Managers get things done. Leaders know what things need to be done. Managers are talkers. Leaders are listeners. Managers are exclusive. Leaders are inclusive. Are you a manager or a leader? The best way to find out is to have your employees take the “Is My Direct Report A Manager Or A Leader?” assessment. It is 100% confidential. Call or email us today to get your copy of the assessment. It is only $10 per employee.

JL’s Moral: A country’s downfall will become evident when that country’s leaders no longer understand the meaning of leadership. When they begin to define leadership as having more power, the country’s demise is sure to quickly follow.


The Correct Answer May Surprise You

How old was the youngest person to climb Mt. Everest? The correct answer may surprise you.

Mount Everest rises 24,035 feet above sea level and has been the goal of every serious mountain climber for the past seventy-five years. The summit was first reached by New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary on March 29, 1953 when Hillary was 43 years old. Truly an amazing feat.

Perhaps more amazing is the fact that Everest was conquered by a young American boy named Jordan Romero who was only 13 years old at the time. I suppose we should not be too surprised, however, since Romero climbed Mount Kilimanjaro which has an elevation of 19,341 feet at the young age of ten.

As Peter J. Stone once said, “The greatest challenge we face in life, whether we’re young or old, is to overcome those fears that lie deep within the soul.

Quote Of The Month
If you think you can or if you think you can’t, your absolutely right. Henry Ford

Are You Slogan Savvy?

1. Full speed ahead
2. ________ strong
3. Aim high
4. The only easy day was yesterday
5. The few, the proud, the __________

Hint: All slogans refer to a branch of the United States military.

Answers are found at the bottom of the newsletter.

Industry Background

Appliance Stores

General Information:
Appliance retailers generally sell a mix of kitchen and laundry appliances such as cook tops, stoves, refrigerators, clothes washers and dryers. Major appliances are usually replaced in 7-10 year cycles. Consumers increasingly want energy-efficient appliances. At the upper end of the market, consumers are also buying larger appliances and more than one set of washers and dryers to fill laundry rooms. In 2010, sales at electronics & appliance stores increased 2.9% from 2009 to approximately $103 billion.
Sales of Energy Star refrigerators and clothes washers is expected to total $21.9 billion during the period from 2009 to 2014. In 2012, the U.S. is projected to dominate the household smart appliance market, accounting for 46% ($1.43billion) of the global market. Source: 59th Annual Appliance Industry Forecast, 2011

Top Factors People Consider When Choosing Appliance:
* User reviews: 52%
* Desired product specifications: 49%
* Familiar manufacturer/brand: 45%
* Merchant rating: 31%
* Style or appearance: 29%
* Lowest price: 24%
Source: Consumer Behavior Report, July 2009

When Sales Are Made:

January: 7.2%     May: 8.8%         September: 7.9%
February: 7.3%   June: 8.8%        October: 7.7%
March: 7.9%         July: 8.8%         November: 9.4%
April: 8.1%            August: 8.4%    December: 9.7%

Percent Of Gross Sales For Advertising: 1.9%

Source: Schonfeld & Associates, 2011

Social Media
According to a recent BRANDfog study, consumers and employees regard company leaders who engage on social media platforms more positively. In terms of importance, 86 percent of respondents rated CEO social media engagement as somewhat important, very important or mission-critical. For more information on the study, visit Source: BRANDfog 2012 CEO Social Media & Leadership Survey, March 2012

Test Your Knowledge

1. What percent of America’s affluent inherited their wealth?

a. 8%
b. 11%
c. 15%
d. 18%

2. On average, small-business owners work the following number of hours per week:

a. 38
b. 46
c. 52
d. 59

3. What percent of all retail sales do small businesses account for in the U.S.?

a. 34.7%
b. 43.1%
c. 52.6%
d. 60,1%

View answers to Test Your Knowledge at the bottom of AdVisions.

Workshop Discounts For Our Readers

Mention that you are a subscriber to the AdVisions Newsletter and receive a 20% discount on any training workshop during the months of June, July and August. In addition, there will be no charge for student workbooks, assessments and student follow-up reports. Call or email us today to discuss what workshop will be best for your employees and to reserve a date for the session(s).

Answers To Our Two Tests

Are You Slogan Savvy?
1. U.S. Navy
2. Army
3. U.S. Air Force
4. U.S. Navy Seals
5. Marines

Test Your Knowledge
1. (a) 8%
2. (c) 52
3. (c) 52.6%


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Lindsey & Associates has been conducting workshops for a variety of businesses throughout the United States and Canada since 1987. We offer a vast variety of sales and management workshops (see below). Let us customize one for your company.

Seven Steps To Successful Selling; Planning Three-Month Campaigns With Advertisers; Selling Against The Competition; Improving Time Management Skills; Mastering Negotiation Skills; Improving Ad Copy, Layout and Design; Developing More Powerful Telephone Selling Skills; Mastering Formal Sales Presentation Skills; Developing Strong Public Speaking Skills; Improving Coaching Skills; Creating Teams For Your Sales Department; Overcoming The Fear Of PublicSpeaking; Dealing With Conflict Situations In The Workplace; Improving Interviewing Skills In Order To Hire The Right Person For Your Company; Developing A Positive Work Atmosphere; How To Generate Sales During Challenging Economic Times; Improving Customer Service Skills That Delight Your Customers