The biggest thing holding back organizations is the lack of leadership.

I’m continually asked by companies large and small, “What are the traits that make a great leader?”

Here is my list of what it takes to be a great leader:

1. Leaders realize their number one job is not to lead others but to create other leaders.

How many times have we watched a terrific organization fall apart when the leader retires or exits their position?

Unfortunately, it happens far too much and it’s due to what I call “ego-leadership.” It’s where the leader wants to be the one in charge and does little to ensure there are others capable of stepping up and leading.

2. Leaders know their results are measured not by what happens when they’re present, but by what happens when they’re not present.

The organization that falls apart the moment the leader is not present is indicative of one being led not by a leader, but by a manager.

3. Leaders know it’s not what they do that matters, but what their people do that matters.

Click on above image for a free infographic on signs of sales leadership!

Click on above image for a free infographic on signs of sales leadership!

They know their own limits and realize the real power of an organization is when everyone is contributing and focused.

4. Leaders know their ability to lead is based on their ability to listen.  

What value are others if they can’t contribute?  Who is capable of knowing everything there is to know?  Leaders seek out others both within their organization and outside their organization to gain input and advice.

5. Leaders know their job is to be focused on people, not on processes.  

Leaders know processes are important, but it’s far more important for their people to know the processes. Leaders are willing to spend the time to develop their people.

6. Leaders know their greatest asset is their people.

It’s not the product they make or the service they provide that allows them to succeed.

Leaders know there will always be competitors seeking to take their business.  Leaders know the only true advantage they have is their people, and as a result, they continually invest in their people.

7. Leaders know they’re being watched and measured, not just on what they do in public, but what they do in private as well.

It’s easy to do the right thing when everyone is watching, but leaders know what they do away from the front-line of their organization impacts how they act when they are on the front-line.

They know other people are watching them in all scenarios.

8. Leaders know goals without plans are worthless.

Leaders plan, but they don’t just plan — they act on their plans.  At the same time, they know their focus is not on the plan, but also on the goal. Therefore, they know that plans may have to be modified.

9. Leaders don’t talk about having integrity. They live it.

The leader who talks about having integrity is the last person to have it.

People who have integrity don’t walk around telling others they have it.  People know the leader has integrity because they see it in the leader’s actions.  Their integrity is what anchors them and allows others to believe and place value in them.

10. Leaders are continually learning.

Leaders know things change and, therefore, they must be continually learning.  Leaders never end a day without having learned something new. They do this by approaching everything as a learning opportunity.

11. Leaders know it starts with them.

Leaders realize this not from a sense of ego, but from a sense of understanding they have to walk the talk.   They know in this era of 24/7 where every action is noticed, the easiest way to lose respect is by attempting to be somebody they’re not.

Is this the entire list things great leaders do that managers only think about?  No, I would never say this is all it takes.

From my vantage point of 15 years of consulting, though, and watching thousands of managers and leaders, this list hits the mark in many regards.

Copyright 2014, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter.” Sales Motivation Blog. Mark Hunter is the author of High-Profit Selling: Win the Sale Without Compromising on Price.

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