Success Lies Outside Our Comfort Zone

The quality of our social relationships offline and online is critical to leadership success and happiness today. We have rapidly moved from connected to hyperconnected to morally-interdependent relationships. Formerly separate spheres of personal and business have fused. Everything is personal in our social relationships. It is less about command and control. It is more about influence. We need to earn and build higher levels of trust in order to effectively nurture mutually beneficial relationships that achieve our objectives. Success lies outside our comfort zone.

Five Key Traits of Great Leaders

  1. Higher Purpose
  2. Passion
  3. Great decision-making
  4. Team builder
  5. Character

Higher Purpose

Leaders with a higher purpose create cultures of higher purpose. A for-profit business culture operating at a higher level of purpose concentrates decision-making that is strategic rather than tactical, positions specialists to be leaders rather than manager-technicians, and enhances the professionalism and perceived value of the practice. Every purpose-based company has got to have purpose-based leaders. Purpose-based leaders are rock solid in practicing their core values. You can’t have a purpose-based company if you have a leader who’s dishonest or manipulates.

The number one thing a leader must do is Do The Right Thing. That sounds pretty banal. How do you know what the right thing is? Practice the Golden Rule. Purpose-based leaders treat people like they want to be treated. We could do away with many of the organizational rules, and the litigations if we sat down and asked purpose-based leaders followed the Golden Rule.


Without passion, you are not a leader. The benefits of passion to the leader and the organization are powerful. Passion is a key trait of a leader. Observing people who are successful and achieve greatness we can see they have passion. It is important to find those areas you are passionate about then stay dedicated to them. I have discovered finding your purpose and strengths helps when it comes to having passion. Authors Robert Kriegel and Louis Patler cite a study of 1,500 people over 20 years showing the value of finding your passions within your life:

At the inception of the study, the group was divided into Group A, 83 percent of the sample, who were embarking on a career chosen for the prospect of making money now in order to do what they want later, and Group B, the other 17 percent of the sample, who had chosen their career path for the reverse reason, they were going to pursue (their passions) i.e., what they want to do now and worry about money later. The data showed some startling revelations: At the end of the 20 years, 101 of the 1,500 had become millionaires. Of the millionaires, all but one, 100 out of 101 were from Group B, the group that had chosen to pursue their passions! Other benefits of passion were:

  1. Passion produces energy.

A leader who has passion is propelled forward from the energy it creates. When it comes to leading yourself and others, passion and energy are critical.

“There is no passion to be found playing small — in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” –Nelson Mandela

  1. Passion propels vision.

If a leader wants to see their vision and goals being accomplished, then the leader’s passion is the power that drives the productivity and outcomes of the vision. The vision of the organization or team should be regularly and passionately communicated to others.

  1. Passion ignites others.

We have all seen or been around a passionate leader. I personally know after I’m around a passionate leader their energy and passion rubs off on me. This causes me to feel more energized and motivated. A person’s passions can ignite other people’s passions and bring energy into their lives.

  1. Passion raises influence.

John Wesley said, “When you set yourself on fire, people love to come and see you burn.” This is what happens when a leader has passion. The leader starts gaining more influence with others, and people want to be a part of what’s going on. If you want to raise your influence, then you need to be a passionate leader.

  1. Passion provides potential.

I have observed that a leader’s passion brings new opportunity and opens the door to success. This is because when you’re passionate about what you’re doing, it moves you closer to your potential. Moving you closer to your potential causes you to be moving into the next level within your career and personal journeyGreat


The ability to make effective individual and group decisions is another key trait of a great leader. Rogers and Blenko (2006) wrote that “Decisions are the coin of the realm…every success, every mishap, every opportunity seized or missed is the result of a decision someone made or failed to make.” Leaders must have fundamental abilities and attributes, understand different methodologies to decision-making, and overcome any barriers in reaching decisions that influence their business strategy and culture.

Leaders who are accountable, a calculated risk-taker, and leverages their values to their decision create value for their organizations and ecosystem. Decision-making is not an event, but a process that is burdened with politics and power plays brimming with individual needs and organizational history; and one that requires commitment at all levels in its execution. The leader must be both peer and commander in the decision-making process. Leaders continuously develop these decision-making skills throughout their careers.

Leaders Build Success Driven Teams

Leaders ditch the “boss” mentality and apply the Three C’s” to building success driven teams: Collaborate, Cooperate, and Communicate.

Collaborate — Don’t Command Leaders benefit more by applying the method of collaboration. Leaders coach and cultivate success driven teams by creating an environment where individuals can collaborate together to share ideas. Collaboration develops trust and engagement. It is critical to allow others to be the essential part of the process. This level of collaboration and respect enables every individual to contribute to a culture of higher purpose and mastery.

Cooperate — It’s Not About Authority Authentic leaders understand high performance that achieves success is about influencing the hearts and minds of each member of your team. You want to create greater value from your team; you must value each member of your team.

Communicate — Don’t Complicate Leaders that clearly communicate their vision at all levels of the organization will allow every member of the team to better understand which enables action and not “paralysis of analysis”. Compliance will not get you where commitment can go so if you are not getting the results you want, consider the Three C’s of building success driven teams.

Leaders of Character

Control is not leadership. Management is not leadership. Leadership is leadership. Most of literature today is about how to lead an organization or how lead other people and very little is written about how to lead yourself or how to become a leader of good character.

Being of good character is the leadership quality that distinguishes great Leadership. It is the quality that most people admire. Leaders of good character have integrity, empathy, and courage. These leaders are humble to the core and seek others for knowledge and guidance. Leaders of character are both student and teacher in their desire for wisdom and pay-it-forward to others if requested. Business schools generally teach students about competencies. Assisting them to work with an through people to get work done, to develop and execute strategy. To a lesser extent, most schools nurture the commitment to become a leader and to succeed in business. Much of our research shows that it is the subject of character that business and many schools have overlooked.

To some executives, the concept of character is innate and is already developed in an individual by the time they reach business school. It is something you have or don’t have. But, Dr. Warren Bennis, Distinguished Professor of Business Administration and Founding Chairman of The Leadership Institute at the University of Southern California has it right. As he observed: “The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born — that there is a genetic factor to leadership. This myth asserts that people simply either have certain charismatic qualities or not. That’s nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born.”


As business models continue to adapt to our “always on” hyperconnected and social world, how we as leaders connect, collaborate, engender trust, deepen loyalties, keep promises and earn relationship capital will not only determine the quality of our business culture, but the success of our business. This success lies outside our comfort zone.



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