3 Critical Characteristics of a Real Leader’s Passion

The new family in the neighborhood overslept and the six-year old daughter missed her school bus.  The father, though late for work, agreed to drive her if she’d direct him.

They rode several blocks before she told him to turn the first time, several more before she indicated another turn.  This process continued for more than 20 minutes — yet when the the father and his daughter finally reached the school, it proved to be only a short distance from their home.

Asked why she’d led her father over such a circuitous route, the child explained, “That’s the way the school bus goes, and it’s the only way I know.

And isn’t that the way it is with so many people?  They only know one way, even though it may not be the best way.  That’s why organizations need leaders, and that’s why leaders and team members have to work together.  That’s why the old acronym has some truth … that the word TEAM means Together Everyone Accomplishes More.

So what do “good” leaders DO so everyone accomplishes more?  I gave you four of those behaviors in the last two Tuesday Tips.    Let’s continue our checklist.


5.  A leader is a passionate goal setter.

You can probably think of a thousand reasons why you don’t have the time to think about your goals, plan out your goals, or write out your goals.  But no matter what reason or reasons you come up with, you’ll always be on the losing side if you’re not a goal setter.  In fact, I dare say that you will find very few,  if any,  great leaders who were not or are not serious goal setters.

When I asked Maury Burgwin, the Chairman of the prestigious Institute for Management Studies in Pittsburgh, for his insights on leadership and success, Maury boldly proclaimed, “The best path to success is to script your desired outcome.”  And then, “To reach that desired outcome, script your tactical plan to get there.  In my affairs I have a polished practiced script for everything I hope to achieve.

Could the same thing be said about you?  That you are passionate goal setter?


6.  A leader has a passion for winning.

In other words, getting by is never good enough.  A leader wants to win.  He wants to be the best, produce the best, and bring out the best in others.

That’s why Daryl Flood, President and CEO of Daryl Flood, Inc., is recognized as running one of the best, most successful moving businesses in the country.  As he says,


Successful leaders follow best practices that garner the loyalty and respect of their employees, and one of those best practices is seeing their leader have a passion for winning.


If you’d like to develop your leadership abilities, you need to check out my new program, “4C Leadership:  Communication, Cooperation, Commitment, and Change.

The lack of this 6th quality is one of the key reasons Senator Fred Thompson did not go very far in his bid for the 2008 Republican Presidential nomination.  Initially he led the polls as the one most likely to be nominated, but when the American people saw him debate, their almost-unanimous opinion was he “didn’t really seem to want the job as President.”  He didn’t have a noticeable passion for winning.  And he was soon out of the race.

A good leader has a PASSION for winning.  As someone said, “If you’re lit up with enthusiasm, people will line up to watch you burn.


7.  A leader has a passion for winning WITH others.

No one said it better than 20th century educator G. Arthur Keough.  He said, “Greatness is not standing above our fellows and ordering them around.  It is standing with them and helping them to be all they can be.

It’s all about building relationships that work.  That’s why I devote the entire second day of my “Journey to the Extraordinary” program to mastering the people skills that have proven to work with coworkers, teammates, colleagues, customers and even family members.  Ken March, a Director at Bain Capital, recommends you take the class saying, “Whether you are building self-esteem or improving your professional or personal relationships, Dr. Zimmerman provided a superb class that will take you from ordinary to extraordinary. The two days were lots of fun, very enlightening, and powerfully effective.

If you would like to join my next “Journey to the Extraordinary” program, click here.  We have fewer than 10 seats still available.

One company that truly lives this 7th characteristic … of winning WITH others … is Tastefully Simple.  It’s one of the reasons they are listed among the most respected companies by the Inc. magazine.  The leadership at the top of the company, and their thousands of consultants around the country, have a passion for winning WITH others.  They call it, “Abundancy.”

In their dictionary, “Abundancy” means they practice the following behaviors: “Teamwork, Servant Hearts, Generosity, Love, Openness, Giving Back, and Win-Win.”  Just the opposite of too many leaders and too many organizations who are motivated by “Ego, Competitiveness, Dog-Eat-Dog, Self-Serving, Greed, Scarcity Mentality, Territoriality, and Win-Lose.”

As you contemplate this 7th characteristic of “good” leaders, don’t overlook the key word “WITH.”  Good leaders have a passion for winning WITH others.


How good are you at winning WITH others? On the job and at home?   After all, we are reminded by Dr. William W. Mayo, the founder of the world-renowned Mayo Clinic, that “No one is big enough to be independent of others.

There you have it … characteristics 5, 6 and 7 of my 10-point checklist of what makes a great leader. To dig in deeper and master the skills that support these 10 characteristics, you need to get a copy of my new book and its accompanying workbook, “The Payoff Principle: Discover the Secrets for Getting What You Want Out of Life and Work.” It may well be the best $39 you ever invested.