Five Traits of Great Business Leaders

by Dave Martin, Dave Martin International

“The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves.” – Ray Kroc

Two people can grow up in the same town; attend the same schools; hold the same social status; have parents with very similar incomes, beliefs and family values – yet one individual will excel in business far beyond the level of his peer. One will succeed; one will settle. One will rise; one will remain. One will control; one will conform. What is the difference? What makes one an outstanding business leader and the other an average employee?

There are five traits that are common in uncommon achievers, and all five are actions and attitudes that set apart the individual of accomplishment and success. The best way to identify these traits and recognize them in yourself, your peers or your employees is to understand the actions that are a product of the characteristics. The following five actions and accompanying traits portray the exceptional manager and great leader.

  1. The great business leader will BELIEVE. He believes in his mission, he believes in his plans and most of all, he believes in himself. Throughout history, the people who have achieved success are the people who have been sustained by a strong, unshakable belief in themselves. They believed in their own talents and abilities. They believed in what they felt called to do, and these great men and women believed in themselves – even though others around them opposed them or failed to support them. Their MINDSET was the greatest factor in determining their outcome. Each person has the power to choose what he will believe about his own potential and what he will think about his own life. Beliefs shape attitude, and one’s attitude determines whether or not life is seen as an ongoing series of obstacles or opportunities. The greats choose to believe in themselves and choose to have a positive mindset, anticipating and seeking out challenges, with the confidence and unwavering belief that they have the ability to win.
  2. The great business leader will THINK big. He has the consistent habit of imagining a solution that has not been tried, of devising an explanation that has not been proven or of creating a result that goes against conventional thinking. He has the ability to dream and to move away from the expected into the realm of experiment and discovery. Whether this is a new battlefield tactic, a medical breakthrough or a fresh marketing strategy, the great leader is open to change and is willing to challenge what currently exists for the potential of a revolutionary discovery. Great business leaders are people of great IMAGINATION. They are pioneers, and they dare to dream. Discoveries and inventions are made because people dare to dream and intentionally think bigger than their current surroundings.
  3. The great business leader will LOOK intently and with total focus. They have complete attentiveness on the results they are working to achieve. Focus equals direction. A person with driving focus is able to let go of everything that does not move him toward his goal. He can say “no” to extraneous distractions and does not let the opinions of those around him deter him from his purpose.The average person tends to be busy rather than effective and stretched to the limits rather than focused. Great leaders have extraordinary FOCUS. They possess a clearly identified goal, and they move toward that objective with single-mindedness and intense concentration.
  4. The great business leader will DO what he says. Great leaders have INTEGRITY. This means they will do exactly what they say they will do. Circumstances may change. New situations may arise. The agreement may no longer be beneficial. Nevertheless, the great leader will keep his word. He will not compromise his principles for convenience or advantage. Because of this, his people trust him – and, for a leader to be effective, he must have the trust of his people. The brilliant Albert Einstein summed up this trait well when he said, “Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.”
  5. The great business leader will STAND up, stand out and stand strong. The world does not pay you for what you know; it pays you for what you do. The world does not pay you for your dreams; it rewards your actions and achievements. Great leaders stand up and take action. Great leaders also stand out. They choose to not be average; they choose to be exceptional and extraordinary. And, great leaders stand strong and lead with COURAGE. Even in the face of doubt and uncertainty, knowing that failure may come, they continue to stand. They endure against the fear of criticism, the fear of failure and the fear of the unknown. Their courage is greater than their fear, and they prevail in the face of disappointment and setbacks, becoming outstanding mentors and leaders.

So, what is the difference in the two people from the same town and same background? One chose to discover the characteristics of greatness, to develop and practice them and to make them part of his DNA. The other chose to be a spectator in the game of life.

Great leaders believe. They think big, look with focus, do what they say and stand with courage. These traits and actions are neither acquired nor accomplished by accident. They are the products of diligent effort and concentrated purpose. Winning is intentional. Success is earned. And, great leaders are marked by their actions.

Dave Martin, Your Success Coach, is a world-renowned speaker and the international best-selling author of “12 Traits of the Greats” and “Another Shot.” For more than 25 years, he has been a mentor, inspirational speaker, coach and business leader. Using these experiences, Martin shares timeless truths, wrapped in humor and delivered with passion, teaching people how to pursue and possess a life of success. For more information, visit