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Five Traits of Successful Leaders

Originally published
Originally published: 9/30/2016

As a leader, you must set a vision for your company — and everyone in your organization must know what the goal is.

Set a clear and concise vision, then ask your team everyday, “How are we moving it forward?” Communicate again and again, then step aside so your team can get the job done.

You must be firm. Communicate your vision frequently, and execute and establish an operating rhythm for your goals. Hold people accountable using metrics that are clear. Great leaders act on these metrics everyday, they continually show the organization that they are focused on the goals.

I worked for Jack Welch my first 20 years, he was the master of setting the goals, communicating the hell out of it, executing on it and never wavering. He made it so simple that 300,000 people knew exactly what was expected of them. Being firm is important as a leader. And to be successful, you must also have these other four traits.

Be Fair

Fair does not mean equal. Every situation and every person in your company are different. Being transparent, listening, seeking input and doing what you say you are going to do will earn your employees trust. Value diversity and what it can bring to your company. It is more than race and ethnicity, it includes one’s background, education, experiences, gender, generation, physical abilities and so much more.

Solving today’s global business problems will require global diverse people. Remember, managers do things right; leaders do the right things.

Your integrity and ethics will be challenged everyday, so you need to mind the small things with the big stuff. As a leader you have more power and influence than you think be sure to use it wisely.

Be Friendly

My experience with leading folks is always to promote a positive environment, reward people and have fun. Bring positive energy to work everyday. Great leaders radiate energy, they are always upbeat and know how to pick up the team.

People need to know that they matter and what they do adds value to the organization. I always found public praise is a great way to recognize folks for a recent success. Not only does the person feel good but also it sends a message to the team that those behaviors are important to me. Lastly, make sure you have fun at work. Be genuine in your approach and its okay to share your shortcomings, it shows your human too.


Create a winning environment, grow and nurture your people and build that successful team. I have managed people all around the globe; I have yet to find people who don’t like to win. People want to be part of the best team. Leaders connect the folks through goals and vision.

Promote a system where everyone’s talents are utilized. Leaders must know their personnel. We need star players to perform, but not at the expense of the team.

Have Faith

Every day, you need to come to work with your game face on — be positive, be strong and be ready. Leadership is about doing less and being more. You must know who you are, your strengths and areas for development.

You’re born with a certain personality but not one personality shapes a leader. Great leaders have tremendous self-awareness and work on improving their skills constantly. It’s important to bring balance to your personal and professional life.

Know and understand your priorities, discuss them with your loved ones and folks at work. Always keep them in sight. Don’t lose that focus. Give back to the people around you and your community. Volunteer your time and resources to help others. Show people you care. It is also a great way to take a break from the day-to-day stress of managing your life.

While your title may be “leader” you are actually many things: a connector, mentor, coach, collaborator and more.


Bob McEwan retired as the general manager of GE Aviation’s global supply chain and continues to conduct leadership seminars for executives and corporate staffs. For additional information, visit


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