There are a lot of good leaders in business today.  But what separates the good from the great leaders?

In golf, the difference between making the PGA tour and playing on a mini-tour can be less than a stroke average.  The margin is very slim.   That’s true of most professions.

Those that put in the effort and time create their opportunity or luck 

Below are six things you can do to become a great leader.  There is no guarantee.  But, with the effort and time, I believe you will create your own opportunity and luck.

Remember, the margin between being good and great can be slim.  Create every opportunity you can.

1. They don’t sit back and magnify the past ( “good old days”).   Business changes too fast today.  What works today may be obsolete tomorrow.  If you sit back and relish your past accomplishments, that’s a recipe to get passed by. Great leaders disregard the status quo. They move forward and spend little time looking in the rear view mirror.

2.  Hire great people.  This seems like common sense but it’s not common practice.  Most organizations don’t spend near enough time hiring people.  Especially in “key” positions.  More often than not, a quick decision is made to alleviate the stress.  What happens is the poor hire creates more stress 6 months down the road.

 Great leaders take their time and hire people that fit culturally first.  Then they match up the skill-set and determine the training needs.

3.  Realize that failures can lead to success.   Great leaders are not scared of taking risks. They know what author Seth Godin states is true, “not starting something and failing is worse than starting and failing.”  However, great leaders do avoid the fatal errors.  They don’t bet the farm.   They know when to take the leap.  They don’t hide their mistakes, they confront them and learn from them.

4.  Fanatical about culture.  Great leaders create a culture (cult like) of family and entrepreneurial spirit.  They are fanatical about principles and live by them.  Great  examples are AppleZapposSouthwest Airlines and The Dave Ramsey organization.  Employees either buy into the culture or don’t stay. This all starts with a great hiring process.

5.  Are great delegators. This develops over time. It is developed through trust and accountability, which, results in extreme loyalty. This also goes back to the hiring process. Great leaders attract exceptional talent they can delegate to.

6.  Reproduce other leaders.  John C. Maxwell, in his book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, calls this the Law of Reproduction.   Great leaders produce other leaders.

Great organizations commit the time and effort to leadership development.  This is the lifeblood of the organization.  Great leaders know this and so do the organizations they work for.

What makes a great leader?  Doing these 6 things over time with diligent focus.  There is no shortcut.  It won’t happen overnight. You can’t take a leadership course or go through a seminar and be a great leader. Those will help, but time and effort over decades of focus is the answer.

You will wake up an overnight success!

What do you think makes a great leader?

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto

John Bossong
John is the General Manager of Cumberland International Trucks in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. He believes that a lack of passion and influence are two things that keep organizations and individuals from continually improving and living life rather than wandering through it. Connect with John on his member profile, his blog www.johnbossong.com, LinkedIn or Twitter @JohnBossong.
John Bossong

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