Three Steps Towards Great Leadership

Unique Leadership Skills Lead to Superior Teams                                       

LinkedIn seems to be flooded with information on Leadership Skills, the qualities of a good leader and what it takes to be a good leader. It’s all fairly informative and includes many practices that many great leaders swear by. However, there are also a few leadership-building requirements that are sometimes-overlooked or even overshadowed by the more popular, (read: less risky) items. Here is a list of three items that deserve some consideration, carry some risk, yet when properly demonstrated, can cement your role as a good leader and buy some much needed leeway to be leveraged for more challenging leadership situations ahead. 


Most leaders know what to do, but it’s really recognizing the right opportunity and having the courage to immediately take action, often with little time to assess. Taking quick action knowing that otherwise, the situation could evaporate in an instant and a fantastic opportunity is gone! Opportunity recognition, as mentioned above; many leaders are so goal originated and schedule bound, they miss opportunities to demonstrate hard core leadership skills.


Strong leadership comes with risk so get comfortable handling it, and reciprocally observe how other well-respected leaders handle / welcome risky situations. Now, watching for risk-avoidance situations alone is too risky. Your team will pick up on any ongoing risk-avoidance behavior and chances are it will erode any respect they may have for your abilities on paper. Get comfortable with risk through role playing: practice improvisation techniques and observation that nurtures the skills you’ll need to act swiftly. If necessary, form a networking team of people to share leadership skill building with. 

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Years ago, I owned a steel fabrication shop with around 15-25 employees. As such, I was also the leader of our team’s drive to shift the plant from old, declining markets to new growth markets. An interesting opportunity for leadership insight presented itself: my team was on break; sitting and standing around the table when their “group leader” referred to me by announcing “that guy knows nothing about steel fab and has no idea how to run this shop; I could do a much better job as the owner.” I happened to be walking towards the group and was well within ear shot, even though his back was towards me. When the team realized I was coming towards them, rather than ignoring the comments and walking on to my office, “the music stopped.” Without hesitation, I put my lips towards the shop leader’s ear and announced over his shoulder in a whisper loud enough for all to hear:

“Tomorrow you’ll run this business like it was your own!” 

He jumped about a foot off the floor and I quickly walked away. The next day he came to work right on time. Now, leaders are the first to show up and the last to leave, so he was already off to a poor start.. His first stop was my office, asking if I was serious. “Yes,” was my reply. “It’s all yours to operate as you see fit, any and all decisions are your responsibility.” My morning hours were spent telling the team members stopping by my office looking for answers and guidance to go ask the “shop owner.” The afternoon hours were spent telling/asking the de facto shop owner “Why are you interrupting me? YOU are the owner – make a decision and take on the responsibility!” 

After a long day of accomplishing very little, you could see the heads looking down as the team exited the plant; they knew it was a non-productive (and nonprofit) day directly affecting growth and new job opportunities. Over the next three days it was revealed that our One Day Leader had made a costly mistake: 

A $10,000.00 Mistake.

One of our good customers (Coming soon in a future article: Good vs Poor Customers! Stay tuned!) had called looking for some fabrication parts from a special, particular alloy. The Leader, in his excitement to land a big order, skipped the part where the customer sends in a written purchase order, a binding contract between supplier and buyer. The project was cancelled as no PO was ever issued. Our little company was stuck with the material. The steel supplier wanted a rather large restocking fee and I made the decision to sit on the inventory knowing full well it would be tough to move. The word spread quickly in the shop. Today it’s still a mystery how the story got started, my guess is our One Day Leader panicked and shared his story with someone else. It took awhile for him to visit my office. He confessed to the over site and wanted to know if he would be fired. My response was silence, he asked again if he would be fired, once again silence. After a long uncomfortable (for him) pause, he stated that running the business was his beyond his capacity and much harder than he realized. “Am I fired?” My response was, “Let’s consider this a learning experience, now go out in the shop and tell the team what you have learned. Explain to them why you feel my vision and direction for this company is spot on and how you feel I am the best leader to get the job done which is to grow the business and create jobs. And to invite the team to jump in be the driving force towards profits and share in the profits through our bonus and profit sharing programs.”