“What do all great leaders have in common?”

First is the challenge of getting maximum effort from every team member. That depends on three variables. The needs of the leader, the organization’s culture or workplace atmosphere, and the team’s potential competence. Great leaders are rare, however, they can always be developed from those who have the God-given DNA to create tomorrow, not just manage today.

Crisis and “impossible” challenges spawn leaders, not the humdrum of everyday management details. Those details only serve to de-energize leaders. Over fifty years of taking what I call, “The hundred-yard dash in a ninety-yard gym” has taught me far more than reading books on leadership, going to seminars taught by leadership “experts” and earning a PhD in Organizational Leadership.

Real leadership is understanding yourself first. Then using that understanding to build a great team. If you build a great team, they will build a great organization. Leaders must be brutally honest about themselves. They must celebrate who they are and fully embrace who they are not. Then they must do that for every member on their team.

Most young and/or inexperienced leaders are their own worst enemy by refusing to accept their own reality. However, great leaders are not limited by that reality but build a team to fill the gaps and leverage that reality. When that happens, no challenge is too great, no mountain is too tall, and no problem that cannot be solved.

Want to be a great leader, or at least a better leader? It’s starts with being brutally honest with yourself and your current reality. You can kid yourself forever, but you only fool good team members for so long. The shelf life of even great leaders has an expiration date. When does yours expire?