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Great leaders get things done. Most leaders don’t. September 10, 2009

Posted by John M McKee in "John M McKee", Action Plans, business strategy, business success, career success, Coaching.
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Successful managers and leaders often share similar approaches.  In this article, executive and business coach John M McKee provides 12 characteristics that are common to effective leaders across all levels and organizations.  Use them to improve your own success.


Great leaders get things done.

When you think about it that statement could be their job description. After all, when giving an individual the role of leader, we almost assume that they, more than others, can get the job done. 

And yet, so many do not. So – what is it that makes a great leader, great?

Over the course of my career, I’ve been very fortunate to have spent time with many great leaders. I’ve worked one-on-one with the leaders of large, well-known organizations like the former chairmen of General Motors, DIRECTV and AT&T.

I’ve spent quality time with top politicians from both the United States and Canada including Bill Clinton, and the former Prime Minister of Canada, Jean Chrétien as well as the secretaries of the US Government and the Ministers of the Canadian one. I’ve also been lucky enough to have worked with great leaders in small businesses and start-ups as well.

During that time, I came to realize that there are certain characteristics that all the truly great share. The following was created as a result:

1. They live their lives and run their organizations “On Purpose”. They know what they stand for. They recognize that their organizations are a reflection of their values and standards, and behave accordingly.

2. They help others to succeed. They mentor, train, assist, demand, challenge and model for others to help them become better.

3. They get results. With teams that know where the organization is going, and who are better trained and capable, they overcoming the odds. They usually beat expectations while others fail.

4. They put back into their communities. Volunteering, tithing, and giving; they support non-profits & other initiatives dependent upon others’ for support

5. They excel in difficult environments, making their own success. Macro issues are often incidental to their approaches. Through Intention, they overcome difficult obstacles that slow down others.

6. They are great listeners. To everyone. Customers. Employees. Competitors. Consequently, they are more likely to be innovators, testing new ideas which others in the same sector may not.

7. They can make tough decisions. When action is required, it’s taken. They can admit mistakes and correct them. Merely “good” leaders often falter when it comes to decisions affecting people, money or strategy.

8. They are honest and ethical. Like a ‘business Karma”, they know that what goes around comes around. As a result, more people will help and support them.

9. They understand the differences of power vs. force.  Many others fail to realize that forcing outcomes ultimately causes negative results. Helping to build new understanding of the motives on both sides, and the benefits one can realize using new approaches ensures long-term success.

10. They don’t need all the recognition, all the time. Loyal and stronger teams result, in turn making better organizations more inclined to go the extra mile in tough times.

11. They continually upgrade their skills. They recognize that the marketplace is constantly changing and that they must as well.

12. They have a clear, actionable plan for their life. Managing their plan, they lead balanced lives while delivering great results.  In our research at my coaching practice Business Success Coach.net over the past few years, we’ve seen that over 80% of those who say they are satisfied with their lives also have a plan.  This is not a co-incidence.

Here’s to your success!




1. Life Coach Vancouver - September 22, 2009

If you need more help getting thing done in your life consider a goal tracking program like 43things.com or Noomii.com

Both work great to help you stay focused and get more done. And both work to help you in your personal and professional lives.


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