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Essential Elements for Great Leaders in this Economy

Abraham_Lincoln_seated,_Feb_9,_1864Rick Telberg of CPA Trendlines asked the question, “What are the essential elements for leaders and managers to succeed in this economy?”   I do not think that these essential elements change so much depending upon the economy.  A truly great leader will possess these qualities regardless of the economy.  The differentiating factor is that the poor economy seems to weed out some of the poor leaders that do not possess these leadership qualities.

Vision.  A great leader needs to have a clear vision of where he wants to take the company.  What should it look like next year and in five years? Not only should they have this vision, but they need to communicate it to their followers.  A leader will never get her followers to work toward a vision that she does not understand or consciously communicate. 

“Vision is a lot more than putting a plaque on the wall.  A real vision is lived, not framed.” – Ken Blanchard and Jesse Stoner in Full Stream Ahead!

Values.  A great leader needs to possess a strong set of core values.  He needs to consistently conduct himself in a manner that his employees respect and make them want to follow him.  A strong set of core values from a great leader will radiate throughout the organization. 

Stay Positive.  Are sales down this year?  How much?  20%?  30?  more?   A great leader needs to recognize this fact, understand the reasons why the sales are down, and have a vision of where he is moving the company forward.  A great leader does not focus on the negative.  Always stay positive about where you are going.  Just like your values will radiate throughout your organization, negativity will corrode every fiber of an organization like a bad virus.

Persistence.  When a football team that gets behind by two touchdowns stops trying as the clock starts to tick down in the 4th quarter, they are sealing their own fate.  As Jimmy-V said, “Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.”  A great leader is going to face the obstacles that present themselves in a positive manner and find a way around these obstacles.  Do not be afraid of every little failure – keep trying.  Thomas Edison once said that he had not failed, he had just found 10,000 ways that did not work.  Could you imagine what the world would be like today had Thomas Edison not been persistent?

Ability and Willingness to Reinvent the Vision.  A great leader needs to be able to get his ego out of the way and move on.  He needs to constantly be able to reassess his vision and be willing to change it as circumstances dictate.  This is where many leaders ultimately fail because of their lack of persistence or their unwillingness to reinvent the their vision.  A leader can be a part of change or the company can change around him and lead to his downfall.

Last, but not least…

Take Care of Existing Customers.   This obviously relates strongly to the leaders values.  Every single employee in an organization should understand that it is their job to get and keep customers – even those that do not interact with customers.  A great leader should communicate this value throughout the organization and empower everyone  in the organization to make sure customer’s needs are met.