6 Common Traits of Great Leaders

It’s easy to see the difference between a great golfer and a poor golfer. A great golfer has near-perfect form: they keep their head down, their shoulders square, and their hips loose. They don’t swing their arms and they let the club do the work. They can read a green and sink 15-foot putts without sweating. A poor golfer struggles with the fundamentals. Keeping it all together on the tee, the fairway, and the green is no easy task, but the great golfer makes it look easy. It’s easy to see the difference.

It’s much more difficult to distinguish between a good golfer and a great golfer. It’s in the details, the tiny adjustments. It comes down to consistency, muscle memory, athleticism, and knowledge of the course. The differences in the quality of a golfer are analogous to the differences in the quality of a leader. To stop being a good one and start becoming a great one, you have to be committed to doing the little things with excellence.

Recently on Morning Air, John Morales welcomed Dave Durand on to discuss 6 common traits of great leaders that often go unrecognized.

To be a great leader, you should:

  1. Commit to Expertise. Leaders will not be, nor should they be, experts in everything. But they should be experts in their areas of responsibility. And in the areas where they are not, they should delegate those tasks to members of their team who are. A commitment to expertise is a commitment to excellence, care, and efficiency. To become an expert, leaders use repetition, frequency, intensity, and purpose. Do your tasks often, many times, with focus, and with a goal in mind.
  2. Use High Power, not Low Power. High power is the concept of using your power as a leader to empower those around you. Power is seen as a utility for your organization rather than as a tool to establish dominance over others. When you embrace high power, you give those around you the ability to do their jobs better and in a more fulfilling way. When others do their job better, the organization and its members thrive. When you use low power, operations are based on fear, coercion, or threat.
  3. Make Things Simple. That doesn’t mean don’t set high goals. It doesn’t mean only doing what’s easy. It means that great leaders don’t add fluff. They tell it as it is and as it should be. They don’t bend the truth, they don’t add unnecessary work, and they don’t beat around the bush. One of the most important parts of getting things done is being efficient. Find the fastest and easiest way to get the job done well.
  4. Speak in Analogies & Metaphors. This is closely related to making things simple. Metaphors, analogies, and parables are rhetorical tools used by leaders to show others another way of looking at a problem. It gives perspective, and it also simplifies problems. Even if the metaphors don’t perfectly mirror the situation at hand, they can often be effective at magnifying the key factors in said situation.
  5. Be Highly Compassionate. Besides Jesus Christ, a Christian’s greatest role models are the saints. After all, they have all obtained that which we strive for as our ultimate goal. And while each saint has a unique story, you will not find a single saint who lacked in compassion and kindness. Magnanimity is not to be underestimated in a competitive environment. An earthly victory is nothing compared to the victory of eternal salvation.
  6. Be Eager and Swift to Make Self-Corrections. A low power leader is ever vigilant of the mistakes of his subordinates. Mistakes are a sign of weakness, and weakness is not tolerated. Rigidity and fear are the hallmarks of a low power leader. Forgiveness, the benefit of the doubt, and self-correction are the hallmarks of a high power leader. You do not want a deeply faulted or ineffective leader, but you do want one who can recognize when they’ve made a mistake and own up to it. They should acknowledge it, and correct it swiftly and eagerly.

Tune in to Morning Air weekdays at 5am CT

John Hanretty serves as a Digital Media Producer for Relevant Radio®. He is a graduate of the Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas. Besides being passionate about writing, his hobbies include drawing and digital design. You can read more of his daily articles at relevantradio.com and on the Relevant Radio® app.