Leadership Traits that Lead to Business Success

Monte Wyatt & Brad Sugars, Feb 25, 2020

We say often that leadership and management are not the same things. We manage processes. We lead people. Leadership creates passionate and focused people. Stephen Covey says this well in his influential business classic, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Management is climbing the ladder of success efficiently, while leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.

Good leaders are not victims. You should know the difference between leaders who are victims and those who are victors.

Leading is all about understanding ourselves and others and how we respond or react in the moment when decisions are made. That moment or point of decision separates two kinds of people: victors and victims. Victors play above the point of decision, and victims play below it.

Playing below the point of decision, as victims do, means blaming other people, coming up with excuses, and denying the reality of what you’ve done or decided. Victims believe their lack of progress is due to their team. They claim that their poor business performance is the fault of the economy. They insist that the current situation has nothing to do with them.

On the other hand, the victor plays above the point of decision. Such leaders take ownership of the situation. They are accountable for their results, and they are responsible for their actions. Leaders who are victors don’t hide behind others. They take action without excuses, and they deal with how things are.Â

Good leaders are victors, living their lives above the point. They offer solutions instead of excuses. They say what they can do and do what they say, and don't talk about what they can't do. They hold themselves accountable for their actions, decisions, and results.

Unfortunately, the world has taught us to live below the point without meaning to do so. Just think of the news: most of the information that's broadcast is below-the-point news. That's the reason this way of thinking seems normal. It isn’t.

We suggest you stop watching the news and live above the point, as a victor. Take ownership of your success, your mindset, and your actions. Take responsibility for your life. It can be difficult recognizing when you're acting below the point, so don't get discouraged and don't give up.

Here are some of the traits of leaders who are victors versus leaders who are victims. This is sort of the nuts-and-bolts of being a good leader.

Ineffective leaders do this:

  • They hide behind an email
  • They make assumptions and jump down people's throats
  • They quit or complain
  • They make everything someone else's problem.
  • They refuse to adapt or interact with others

Excellent leaders do this:

  • They talk to people by phone or in person.
  • They ask questions to understand what's going on, focusing on facts.
  • They find and offer or implement a solution that improves the situation.
  • They ask themselves how they can improve, grow or learn
  • They choose to learn about and to accommodate other people's styles to get the job done.

In recent years, a string of high profile scandals that tarnished the reputations of some large companies rocked the business world.

A common feature of these cases was that, in most cases, executives and upper management created or fostered toxic work cultures that encouraged unethical business practices such as cutting corners and worse to meet performance metrics that were set impossibly high.

It took strong leaders to create those conditions. Many leaders are passionate and charismatic, which influences others to follow them. But these environments developed and flourished because no one took ownership of them or responsibility for their actions, or was accountable. Everyone went along to go along.

Strong leaders are not necessarily good leaders. Strength, passion, and charisma don’t make a good leader. Intentionality does.

To recap, leading is all about understanding ourselves and others and how we respond or react in the moment when decisions are made.

We'd love to hear from you. What kinds of leadership have you experienced in your organization, victor or victim? Thank you for sharing.