7 Key Attributes of a Great Leader

  1. Be sincere. Don’t act like someone’s friend when you are firing them. Believe me, in one case, my boss put his arm around my shoulder and said, “Buddy. I need to talk to you.” I have never had a buddy fire me.
  2. Treat people as you would want to be treated. Any success I have had in the world I own to two facts: I have treated people as equals, and I have never spoken down to them. Coming off as a know-it-all is a disgusting trait.
  3. Get rid of the politics. It has no place in successful organizations. Save it for your presidential campaign, but remember that it has no place in a team setting. We should be willing to help each other because we care about the individual or ourselves and the common good of all who work with us, and arguments over politics get in the way of this.
  4. Be honest. If someone screws up, either it’s a reason to fire them or a building block for their character. Be honest with yourself when you have made a mistake and be honest with others when they have.
  5. Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t. Save your time and say no. Too many times in my career, I have made decisions that weren’t exactly right, and at those times I knew it from the beginning; and boy, did it cost me.
  6. Lead with compassion. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Don’t act like you’re compassionate, because people can see through that. Be compassionate, and if you can’t be compassionate, please help the rest of us and look for another job.
  7. Face up to your decisions. Do your dirty work yourself. Show you have what it takes to be a leader. I call this “testicular fortitude,” and it needs no explanation. If you have conviction and believe in what you are doing, please do it. I have run into many executives who hide from difficult discussions, and believe me, when this happens it highlights the fact that we have a manager in a leadership role.