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  • Writer's pictureTerry Dockery


Quality of leadership is the single most important variable determining organizational (including financial) success. Some of the finest leadership research ever conducted was the Ohio State Studies, which spanned more than two decades. The bottom line was that successful leadership is determined by two main factors:

  1. Consideration: demonstrating to other people that you care about them so they will care about you and your organization in return

  2. Initiating Structure: long and short term planning and execution

The first factor, Consideration, accounted for the majority of the difference in successful leadership. This is a very important point because it essentially means that people skills, or emotional intelligence, accounts for the majority of leadership success. Keep that in mind the next time you are tempted to underestimate how important your customers and your coworkers are to your personal success and to the overall success of your organization.

Keeping this point in mind, the Top Ten Traits that follow are organized under the main headings of Consideration and Initiating Structure.


  1. Honest: people won’t follow a dishonest person for long. “If he’ll mistreat someone else, he’ll mistreat me too.”

  2. Nurturing: the essence of Consideration. “He really cares about me and my family. It’s safe to trust him, and I want to do my best for him.”

  3. Confident: the result of the ability to be self-nurturing and like oneself. “She knows who she is and what she’s doing, and she’ll back up her decisions assertively.”

  4. Fun loving: people are intrinsically motivated when something is enjoyable. “This organization is fun and exciting; I want to stick around to enjoy the ride.”

  5. Passionate: excited about what she is doing. “Her passion for this organization is contagious.”

Initiating Structure

6. Intelligent: the best single predictor of overall achievement. “He’s a smart guy; I feel confident in his abilities.”

7. Committed to excellence: neither mediocrity nor perfection will motivate for peak performance. “She sets high standards that are challenging but realistically achievable.”

8. Innovative: understands the necessity of continuous improvement for sustained success. “He’s always looking for a better way.”

9. Integrated: using both rational and emotional wisdom when making decisions. “She’s an exceptional decision maker, and she’s usually right.”

10. Team-oriented: understands that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. “He’s a great team leader and motivator; we all win bigger when he is around.”


Technique #1: Evaluate your leadership team for the Top Ten Traits and create an action plan to address areas that need improvement.

Technique #2: Your most powerful leadership tool is leading by example; develop the Top Ten Traits in yourself.

Technique #3: Screen for the Top Ten Traits when bringing new leaders into your organization.

Copyright Terry "Doc" Dockery, Ph.D. All rights reserved.

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