Ya-ttitude: On Leadership

March 5, 2008 at 9:18 pm 8 comments

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Being a leader is the most important part of leading; you can’t do one without the other and making smart and prepared decisions is the key to being a great leader. 

There are two major types of Leadership. The first, and by far the most effective, is LEADERSHIP BY AUTHORITY of, and with the sympathy of your followers. The second is LEADERSHIP BY FORCE, which does not have the consent and sympathy of your followers. 

History is filled with PROOF that Leadership by Force JUST cannot endure. The downfall and disappearance of dictators, corrupt regimes, Kings and Czars is REAL important when trying to understand this statement, all you have to think about is how the eventual end of these types of governments and leaders came about. It means that people will not follow forced leadership indefinitely. But they will follow, that much history has shown us.  They are just following until something better or a chance to overthrow and change comes along.  And your leadership by authority is what came along.   

All great leaders have a list of major attributes that run common through them.  There can be slight differences but the list of the following 10 key attributes will transform you into that great leader you want to be.  The following is a list of what is generally believed to be the qualities of a leader who positively reinforces and brands their company with the mark of excellence that motivates their people to move mountains for them! 

Courage:  Nobody wants to be the follower to a leader who lacks self confidence, and courage in himself.  And for that matter if you do lack confidence and courage in yourself you will not lead long as you will soon be the follower to one of your ex-followers. 

Control:  You need to control yourself in the face of adversity.  You need to control yourself in all phases of your daily life.  No one respects a leader who regularly explodes.  It breeds dissention in the ranks.  It breeds a negative atmosphere.  It breeds fear from your employees.  And the ability to control yourself and remain calm in all ways presents a tremendous example to all in your employee.    

Integrity: Without a sense of fairness and integrity, not leader can lead.  You would require no less from your employees why should they expect less from you

Decisiveness:  It really does not get more important than this.  A wish-washy leader is not a leader for long, as someone from within the ranks will show their ability to lead from strong decision making and you will soon find yourself working for them or worse working somewhere else.  You cannot be unsure in your decisions as it projects quickly to your employees and a person who cannot be sure of himself in the midst of decision making shows his employees that they can never be sure that they will make the right choice, or worse, any choice at all.  This also is a great way for the employee to take advantage, as they will play upon your indecisiveness and make their choices happen and negatively influence yours.  Decide and stick to your guns.   

Cooperation:  The successful leader must cooperate with all levels and expect and even demand the same back.  Without an open air of cooperation and communication throughout you are destined for failure.  Remember here, in order to expect a level of full cooperation from all departments and from yours, you must first be willing to cooperate fully as well.  Leadership calls for power and power comes from cooperation. 

Responsibility:  There can be no, I do not know, I will get back to you on that or it was not my fault in your vocabulary.  You must take full responsibility for everything that happens in your division.  A great leader is capable and willing to take on the responsibility of all of the errors or mistakes of his followers, or again – he will become one of the followers.  If one of your team makes the mistake or fails, then it is you who has made that mistake or has failed.  But in that failure, remember there is always the recipe for greater success, just be sure you assumed its responsibility. 

Doing more than expected (or paid for): One of the penalties for being that great leader that you are is your going to do more than you require of your followers.  I remember many an occasion when I was picking, packing, wrapping and getting product ready to ship for one of the companies I worked for.  Now many of the other Directors went home and had a great dinner with their families.  I and my team stayed late, and made sure that our customers were taken care of, it should be part of your job description.  The biggest pet peeve for me has always been the employee who cries “It’s not my job,” that employee should be looking for a different job, at a different company.  And you will never be afforded the opportunity to use that line, because as the leader all jobs are your job.  Be sure you understand how and why each position exists in your company and be prepared to fill in when asked and fill in often when not asked!

A definite plan/goal:  We will touch on this many times during the training here, but a great leader “plans his work and works his plan.”  A leader who works by guessing will not be a leader long.  You must decide what and when and then make it happen.  Yes, tweaks are allowed and even required, but you must have a vision of how and when always ready to work from, or else you will be like a sail boat with no sails.  You may eventually reach your destination, but that will be from sheer luck.  Odds are greater that you will just sail aimlessly and in circles. 

Personality (strong and pleasing): Sloppy and weak leaders are short lived.  Leadership calls for respect and we know that respect is earned.  Forced respect does not exist – it only translates to fear.  And fear of leadership creates animosity and bitterness, and hostility; all traits of the ex-leaders team.  Among your pleasing personal traits are your ability to dress well and dress the part, a bright and pleasing smile and the ability to really understand the importance of a great handshake.  Coworkers and followers will thrive on your positive personality; you will starve from your bad one. 

Understanding:  The understanding and sympathetic leader, leads forever.  But beware; empty sympathy just like empty compliments will doom you to failure.  Your people will know when you are full of hot air, just like you know when someone else is.  Understand your people and their problems, and be there for them, always.  Leadership by authority or consent is just a positive way to bring the troops in line, show everyone that you care and that you will breed mutual concern and cooperation in a positive and thoughtful manner.  I can’t say it enough:

 “They do not care what you know, until they know that you care.” 

By now you must realize that if there are Ten Positive traits of a Great Leader that there are going to be Ten negative traits of the failed leader. 

And here they are.   

Inability to Organize:  Whether this is your daily planner, your long range goal or the Company Holiday party, your inability to organize will be your downfall.  Many people believe that Knowledge id Power, what they fail to realize is that ORGANIZED knowledge is power.  Knowledge by itself is great I your playing trivial pursuit, if you want to go far, you will need to know how to organize it to its fullest advantage.

Lack of Flexibility:  If you will not do more than is asked of you, if you cannot and will not perform the duties of those who work for you when called upon and if you cannot realize that the greatest constant in your career will be change you are doomed to fail. 

Arrogance:  The world will pay you not for what you know, but for what you do with what you know or how you help others succeed with what you have taught them. 

Fear from Competition:  In all actuality any of the 6 great fears (discussed later) will create a losing situation for you the great leader.  But if you fear competition in any way, failure is soon to follow.  You cannot fear hiring the best talent available, as it is proof in your confidence and in your ability to create the best team possible.  Your ability to hire, train, mentor and motivate is paramount in the process of creating the world’s best team.  Multiplying you and then delegating duties shows true leadership.  You cannot fear anything your competition does as you know that you and your assemble group will outdo anything that can, quicker and better. 

Lack of imagination:  Death of a Leader.  You must continually come up with and reinvent the wheel.  Without imagination how are you to “react” in an emergency or create those incredible sales plans?

Selfishness:  If you are going to claim all the rewards for the accomplishments of your team then you are sure to be without a team.  The real great leaders do not wish any of the honors that go with the accomplishments but would rather them bestowed upon his workers, creating an atmosphere conducive to growth and achievement!

Hedonism:  Followers do not respect a hedonistic leader, and more importantly any leader who shows signs of hedonism will eventually destroy the endurance and vivacity of all that work with him. 

Disloyalty:  This may be the number one fault.  A leader who cannot be loyal to those above him and below him will not maintain his leadership for very long.  Disloyalty is actually one of the greatest causes of failure in every walk of life and in every profession. 

Highlighting Authority:  A great leader leads by encouragement.  He leads by teaching, coaxing, mentoring and working closely with those that follow him.  Leaders who either force their lead or continually boast about it are doomed from the start.   

Importance of Title:  Similar to the previous flaw in leadership, flaunting your title or boasting about it will only breed dissention and hatred.  The great leader needs no recognition of Specific Title; he is leader by default and commands the respect the position deserves. 


This is a great time for you to go back and read again the ten traits of a great leader

You should go back and go over the ten traits listed above and on a scale of 1 to 10 grade yourself.  If you cannot be totally honest with yourself ask a well-trusted friend to grade you. Being a great leader means you score high.  It is not required that you have to score high now, it just means you now know where you may need work, and as you continue to read, you will get all of the needed guidance.   

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Ya-ttitude: Getting Personal Ya-ttitude: Defending the “If”

8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Michael Ray Hopkin  |  March 6, 2008 at 6:20 pm

    I agree with your ten traits of a leader, they are all important. I also agree with the negative traits of a failed leader. I’m glad you added the word “failed” in there. There are, on occasion, leaders who “fall” or quit being effective leaders. I believe these traits also (and much more often) apply to managers who think they are leaders. You read about managers who practice many or all of the bad traits. Thanks for writing about them; it’s important to keep the bad traits in mind so we DON’T practice them.

    BTW, do you have an ‘About’ section? I couldn’t find it.

  • 2. Steve Rosenbaum  |  March 6, 2008 at 8:23 pm

    What you present is a eutopian view of leadership. Over history, great leaders have been those who can inspire others to follow them. Often not just by force by the charisma of their personalities. There also have been those who did your top 10 lead others with noble goals and ended up with some of the worst human disasters in history.

    Who was a more effective leader, Ghandi or Ghengis Khan?

    Jim Jones or Mother Theresa?

    Leadership really has nothing to do with the quality of the outcomes. Leadership simply means getting others to follow you. As they say, the road to hell is paved with good intention.

  • 3. bennyinny  |  March 6, 2008 at 8:44 pm

    What I presented is the skill-set of a leader. Utopian, perhaps – but those traits are what create a great leader. I never said that being a great leader makes you a great person. History has shown us great leaders that are far from great people.

    What I did say was in order to lead effectively; those positive traits will take you a long way to accomplishing your goals in life. And those negatives will be a shortcut to your demise. As far as failed leader(s) – there were many who failed – but from those failures were able to build a better mousetrap. Failures should not be looked upon as a negative – but as just an ingredient to the recipe of your success.

    I have actually received many emails about this blog – and think perhaps I will do another Leadership-Blog answering the questions


  • 4. Steve Rosenbaum  |  March 6, 2008 at 10:56 pm

    What would be helpful is if you had examples of great leaders who fit those characteristics. I can’t think of many well know leaders who aren’t a mixture of both lists.

    George Washington as a military leader was very authoritarian and would have those who disobeyed orders flogged. While on the other hand, those at the continental congress look at him as a leader because of his stature and their respect for him.

    He was actually one of the few leaders in the history of the western world who turned down a position of ultimate power unlike Napolean, Bismark and others who started on one track and seized power. That’s way Washington is known as the American Cincinatus.

  • 5. bennyinny  |  March 7, 2008 at 9:10 am

    At the end of the post, I mentioned that you should go over each of the positive traits and rank yourself on a scale of one to ten. I said that being a great leader means you scored high – not perfect. Leading and being a leader are not the same thing.

  • 6. Kevin  |  March 12, 2008 at 10:36 am

    I agree with the 10 above though I would rename one and add another. I would change “responsibility” to “accountability”. I like “accountability” better because it denotes the responsibility of your decisions and the decision of others. You covered this in your description but I always found I wanted accountable people on my team versus responsible people. I wanted them to show up on time and do there job, but I really wanted them to take ownership to fix problems they didn’t cause. My take…

    The missing trait I think is the most overlooked leadership quality. Servitude. In our culture we believe there are those that lead and those that serve, and be sure not to mix up the two. But service or servitude is one of the greatest traits of a leader. It is the trait that creates loyalty and the dynamic of I-will-do-anything-for-you team members. It creates the joint respect and love required for any great team. It is overlooked and not trained in most leadership training, and it is a shame. It is one of the simplest things to do and the hardest to find.

    Really enjoying the blog Ben. Thanks!

  • 7. bennyinny  |  March 12, 2008 at 10:47 am

    Thanks Kevin – I like Accountability as well – though it is one of those over-used “buzz words” in my current world – that might be one of the reason I let it slip from my thoughts. I see many people who toss around the “accountability” word who do not seem to understand the depth of the definition.

    As for servitude… I think it makes for an interesting addition, though it is part of “understanding”, “pleasing personality” and “doing more than you are paid for/going the extra mile“.

    I would agree that the best leaders can serve the team, employed and the company they are part of within the definition of their Leadership.

    Great Food for Thought!


  • 8. Josh  |  March 15, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    Great post! There are too many managers in this world and not enough leaders. The difference between the two is striking. The results obtained when leading vs. managing are astounding.


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