Keys to Great Leadership


By Mark A. Leon

Great leaders are not born, nor invented, but are harnessed through experiences, learning, environmental exposure and ideals of excellence.  These men and women that invoke respect and admiration from their colleagues and peers have earned this through success, respect, loyalty and the ability to inspire.

What sets these individuals apart from the rest?  What truly defines a great leader in an age where ethics and values too often get compromised?

These qualities will paint a very visual picture and as the colors blend together, a creation will form laying the masterpiece of the core values of great leadership.

If you can achieve these five core qualities/traits of a great leader, your future will be paved with achievement.

Great Leadership Traits

Be Yourself: Your True Self – Too often, we feel we need to wear two hats, personal and professional.  The perception that the life outside of work must remain isolated from the life inside the office is one that clouds the ability to create loyalty, partnership and trust in an organization.  A truly inspiring leader is a person that lets his people know all he/she is.  From the great to the bad, transparency builds trust.  It is that ability to open yourself up as a human being with emotion, harnessed and raw, that provides others with the feeling of community.  No team will ever succeed without collaboration, innovation and trust.  Being yourself is the first step to an open environment of sharing and teamwork.

Challenge your people – Human behavior is teased with routine and addiction.  We are surrounded by binge TV, apps, games, addictive behavior and the comfort of doing what we know repeatedly.  It is often our downfall.  When a new processes or technology is introduced, getting the masses to take on a new way of thinking can be the most difficult act of a leader, but a necessary one.  A great leader will continuously challenge and promote change.  Change is constant and necessary.  It is the foundation of growth.  Without it, others take over the reign and you soon become a forgotten commodity.

Be open to failure – Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos recently said, “our company is the greatest company in the world at failure”.  A CEO of one of the largest brands on the planet was bragging about failure.  Brilliant leadership.  The ability to fail means you are willing to take risk.  If you focus on the great design and brand heavy companies; Apple, Google, McDonalds, Samsung, IBM and more, you will see a common trend:  failure.  At Google, they may test 1000 products before hitting a home run and they are okay with that.  The ability to accept and “promote” failure is a sign of great leadership, because you are putting the future in the hands of those you trust and are willing to take accountability for their risks.

Solicit Feedback – in one way or another, we all go through performance assessments.  Some formal, some informal.  Some annual, some quarterly.  They are a necessary evil, but do serve value.  A strong leader takes the next step.  He/she will constantly look to those in the heart of a project and learn from them.  Leaders cannot be in every place at every time, so they must rely on honest evaluation from their teams to help understand what changes and adjustments need to be made.

Trust your team – Trust is earned.  Trust is an element of a much greater good.  The greatest leaders will do the follow:

  • Build a team of diverse thoughts and ideas
  • Welcome open and constant feedback
  • Let teams take risks and be open to failure
  • Trust in their skills and abilities
  • Be there for advice and counsel
  • Take pride in their team’s successes
  • Reward and recognize excellence

All these things build trust.  Trust leads to loyalty.  Loyalty leads to strength of team.  A strong team drives results.


There you have it, the traits of a great leader.  Where do you stand?

Perpetual motion with broken light bulbs and glowing bulb

Perpetual motion with broken light bulbs and glowing bulb


Don’t Be Another Brick in the Wall

I finally found the meaning behind the Pink Floyd song. Call me clueless or call me enlightened. Either way I found a new interpretation which was I had not discovered in the previous hundreds of times I had heard that song.

Ants Marching by Dave Matthews clearly reiterates the true message behind the Pink Floyd anthem. For many, the song is about rebellion, defying education and the system and fighting off the establishment. In essence don’t be “another brick in the wall” Are we followers to a path of established lifestyle that we are forced to live at birth. Are we destined to go through youth, innocent to confused, get a proper education, a job, start a family, retire and die. Now, that was a very sobering thought.

Here is a thought, that does not take a rock star lifestyle to comprehend, be different without destroying the establishment. Make a difference while still staying within the boundaries of a moral foundation. We are all born with an a unique skill that blesses us with talents beyond our own rational thinking: a mind. It is the single most power presence in all of the universe (at least the part that scientists have discovered). We have the ability to make history.

We can change, we can take the road undiscovered and make it our own. We can define future generations.

By thinking on your own, we are not setting the stage for and recommending complete rebellion. We are suggesting taking a risk and following your passion.

Discover your talent and use it to give back to society.

Do you have compassion?
Are you athletic?
Are you an artist?
Are you a writer?
Are you a leader?
Are you an educator?

No matter what you talent, knowing it is only Act I. The play has only begun.
Now it the time to harness and exploit that talent for the good of all mankind.

Be a thought leader. Use your abilities, take the ultimate risk and no matter what, do not be afraid to succeed.

You thought I was going to say “do not be afraid to fail”. I meant “do not be afraid to succeed”

You will succeed. Just by putting the effort forward, you will. If you affect one life and only one you have become a success and a role model to another.

Let go of your habits, let go of your behaviors and look within yourself to find your talent, make it your own and share it with the world

Be a thought leader, not another brick in the wall