The 5 Components of True Leadership

In business today, there is possibly no ideal more venerated than “Leadership.”

If leaders lead well, they cast a vision that inspires their followers to take the action required to move toward a brighter future.

Leaders provide their followers with the philosophy and the skills that make it both enjoyable and attainable to truly excel at their day to day duties as they all move along the road to the destination that was promised in that vision.

A leader’s ability to transmit the philosophy and uncover the skills in the followers will determine how long it takes to achieve the vision.

As the leader goes, so goes the organization, regardless of the size; whether a team of 3 or a workforce of 20,000.

Leadership is a truly awesome responsibility.

And so,

We revere strong leaders.

We compensate them well.

We look to them for guidance.  In fact, some companies even look to them as a savior.

We trust that they will take us where we want to go.

I’ve seen the benefits in my own life from the influence of strong leaders.  I’ve done my best to emulate their actions and philosophies and I find myself having some success…but in my heart I feel I’m really just passing on the same philosophy that was passed to me.

Funny thing.  A few years ago while talking with one of my greatest mentors, I told him that when it comes to my management style, I pretty much just copy everything he did for me.  I literally pass along the same info he gave to me.   I do the same things in my management process.  I told him it feels a little like plagiarizing.  He laughed and said, “Dan, I did the same thing with you.  I just passed along everything my mentor gave to me.”

That’s when I realized effective leaders are the only people able to create more effective leaders.  They are the only ones that can show you the model.

Nothing but good can come from an increase in the amount of effective leadership.  I’d like to see more of it in the world.

So I wrote a book about it.

A book….a 234 page book.  How did this happen?  A little over 3 1/2 years ago while I was driving home from work, a very dear friend called me.  Her name is Tess Cox and she is an Executive Leadership Coach.  She helps boards and executives of large organizations develop themselves into the ideals we discussed above.

She called because she was planning to conduct a seminar for a group of sales leaders and she called me to talk about what it means to be successful in sales.  What does success look like?  This was a good phone call, because I’m pretty enthusiastic about sales…as you know. 🙂

We ended up talking for almost an hour about the philosophy and the process that my team uses to go to market and win consistently.  The conversation led to a realization that this process was comprised of a few basic truths that would apply to pretty much all of life.  Maybe, we thought, this would make for a really good book.  We began to outline.  3 1/2 years later and we are officially launching the book this Friday, April 7th.

I’ve never run one, but I assume this is what the finish line of a marathon feels like.

So why am I telling you all of this?

I believe that if you want to increase your Leadership effectiveness, the #1 thing you can do is find a great leader to follow, and emulate what they do for the people that follow you.

The #2 thing you can do is read books on Leadership and apply the lessons to your life with real intention.   Our book will give you the tools to apply the 5 components of great leadership to your life and work.

So without further ado, the 5 components of a true leader:

1. Character

Character is the foundation that your entire leadership reputation is built on.  If you don’t have this component internalized, there’s no point in trying to apply the rest.

Extraordinary leaders have extremely high levels of integrity.  Although, they don’t think of it as “high” anything.  Integrity is just a constant.  They won’t lie.  They won’t shade the truth.   They don’t do anything that would be seen as underhanded.  Most importantly, they don’t even have to think about it.

This gives their followers peace.  Peace of mind is like a warm blanket.  It’s comforting, and it builds loyalty, both between the leader and followers, but even more importantly…it lends itself to peace and loyalty amongst the followers themselves.   As a leader goes, so goes the organization.

2. Competence

The Harvard Business Review published an article at the end of 2016.  It was titled, “If Your Boss Could Do Your Job, You’re More Likely to Be Happy at Work”  The key conclusion they drew was that “The benefit of having a highly competent boss is easily the largest positive influence on a typical worker’s level of job satisfaction.”  

People that are highly satisfied are contributing and engaged.  A-player followers want to learn, grow, and develop their skills.  All stars want to be coached.

A leader needs to be able to coach, train and mentor the followers so the organization moves to the destination of the vision as quickly as possible.  A leader that can’t do that will never generate the credibility or trust that the organization needs to thrive.  The journey will take longer.

3. Consistency

While technical skills and competence are important, it’s not the whole picture.  Several years ago, Google did a study of their best leaders.   They found an unexpected trait that they all shared…that was actually quite boring.  That trait was predictability.  Another word for predictability is consistency 🙂

When leaders are consistent, their followers don’t have to wonder how they will react to any particular stimulus.  In fact, the longer they’ve known their leader, the more comfortable the working relationship becomes.  When you couple this consistency with the quality of high integrity, and high levels of competence, you end up with a very capable leader indeed.  People are clamoring to get on that team.

4. Creativity

The world is changing in such a way that it feels as though its accelerating all the time.  The rise of the web and technology in the last 20 years has created 4 new juggernaughts that even Microsoft couldn’t have seen coming.   These would be the resurrected Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Google.

Thinking and acting in new ways is now table stakes for survival.

Leaders need to have a quality of rigid flexibility.    They hold very tightly to the fundamentals, while questioning everything at the same time.  It’s not just, “Is there a better way to do this?” It is also, “Is there something we should be doing OTHER than this?”

This creative drive also applies to people, and the relationships we have with them.  If leaders aren’t thinking of new and better ways to communicate, listen to, and truly understand their followers, they may find themselves out of touch with the realities of the business.

5. Confidence

The thing about confidence, is it is the absolute last component a leader can experience, and it’s the only one they can’t really “work toward.”

Confidence only comes through a solid practice of the first 4 components.  If a leader regularly sows seeds of doubt, if they don’t know how the business works, if they change positions with regularity, or if they’re stuck in a rut, true confidence will not be possessed by that leader, nor by the organization.

I’m not talking about bravado here.  I am talking about a sense of quiet self assuredness.  Followers need to know that a leader believes in what they’re saying and doing.

Confidence is contagious.

When the leader conveys the vision and the strategy with confidence, the followers feel like they’re half way to the destination before they start.

So let’s add it all up.

We can be leaders with character that build trust.

We can be competent leaders that generate credibility.

We can be consistent leaders that encourage peace of mind.

We can be creative leaders that drive real engagement by listening, learning, and thinking of new ways to accomplish our goals.

We can be confident leaders if we do all of these things well.

If this sounds like the type of leader you’d like to be, and you live in southern California, we’re having a book launch party on April 7th at the Barnes and Noble in Valencia, Ca.  

If you don’t live in southern California, then I’ll just invite you to buy our book on Amazon on April 7th.

Why April 7th and not right now?

Well, Amazon ranks books based on sales over a certain period of time, so we’d like to concentrate as many sales into that one day as possible.  That will cause the book to rank higher in the business and leadership category, which will allow more people to find it, leading to wild and crazy success and the requisite huge party at some point that you’ll all no doubt be invited to.  It’s very simple.

For more information about the book, you can also check out the book’s website:

Good Selling (and Leading) Everyone!