19 Common Traits of Championship-Level Leaders

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Trait #1 – Intelligence

Almost every Championship-Level Leader in my Rich Habits Study said they owed part of their success to being smart. Smart came in two flavors – some Leaders said they were Street Smart, others said they were Book Smart and some said they were a bit of both.

Interestingly, of the forty-nine “Leaders” in my Study, only eleven actually knew they were smart by virtue of the IQ Scores, which ranged from 118 – 139.

The good news is that IQ is not static or fixed. It will increase as you become more knowledgeable.

Trait #2 – Building Strong Relationships With Influencers

One of the common traits among the Championship-Level Leaders in my Rich Habits Study was their obsession with building relationships with Influencers. These could be other senior executives within their company or senior executives in other companies within their industsry.

Some of the common Relationship-Building Tools Successful Leaders used were the following:

Hello Calls, Happy Birthday Calls and Life Event Calls

Hello Calls – These are “Reconnaissance” calls. By that, I mean, they are phone calls you make in order to gather information about each Influencer. The more you know about your Influencer, the more opportunities you will have to build stronger connections with them.

Happy Birthday Calls – These annual calls have one important function – they keep your relationship with your Influencer on life support. According to my Rich Habits Study data, after a few years, about 25% of these Influencers will reciprocate and call you on your birthday. This takes the relationship off life support and opens the door to making Hello Calls and eventually, Life Event Calls.

Life Event Calls – These are the most important calls you make. Because they are “Emotional-Calls”, they put your Influencer relationship on steroids. The roots to your relationship grow deep and fast, with Life Event Calls. You make Life Event Calls whenever something good or bad happens to one of your Influencers, which is emotional.

Other Relationship-Building Tools:

  • Make Periodic Eye Contact for Only 5 Seconds – More than 5 seconds of eye contact makes certain individuals uncomfortable.
  • Be Careful What You Say – Speaking your mind does not mean sharing every thought. Some thoughts are not appropriate and could cause irreparable damage to your relationships – relationships you invested years in building.
  • No Negative Gossip – Never Criticize, Condemn or Complain
  • Stay Positive & Upbeat
  • Give First – Successful Leaders have a Service to Others mindset.
  • Ask For Help

Trait #3 – Warrior Work Ethic

A typical Championship-Level Leaders will work 10-12 hours or more each day for many years. And often, it’s more. And their work does not end when they leave their place of business. After work hours, many Championship-Level Leaders devote time to non-profit activities either within their community or at a more regional/national level. Some Championship-Level Leaders are also on Boards or Committees of Industry Trade organizations, where they work with other Leaders within their Industry.

Trait #4 – Laser Focus

Laser Focus is the ability to concentrate for long hours at a time. It is also the ability to quickly pivot and shift to other pressing matters, deploying that same Laser Focus to solve problems or to deal with obstacles/unexpected events.

Gaining Laser Focus requires many years of Practice. It is not something that you can manifest at will. Like a muscle, it must be developed over a long period of time.

Trait #5 – Productive Habits

The Championship-Level Leaders in my Rich Habits Study forged what I call Productive Habits, These were habits that were tied to their Goals and Dreams.

What were some of the Daily Productive Habits of Championship-Level Leaders?

  • Daily Industry/Career Reading – Read to learn, 30 minutes or more (often more) each day.
  • Daily Goal Habits – Goals are action steps you take in order for your vision, you dream, to become a reality.
  • Daily Health Habits –Daily aerobic exercise and eating healthy, nutritious food helps Championship-Level Leaders to maintain high energy levels throughout the day, which enables them to focus. When you’re tired, you lose your focus and make bad decisions.
  • Trust-Building Habits – Being responsive to employees you manage, customers/clients and other business partners, such as vendors, enables you to maintain strong Trust-Based Relationships. Being consistently truthful is also another powerful Trust-Building Habit of Championship-Level Leaders.
  • Saying NO Habit – Time Scarcity is a problem every Championship-Level Leaders must learn to live with. Because their time is so limited, Championship-Level Leaders make a habit of saying NO to individuals, projects or initiatives that do not help the Leader and their company move forward in realizing Goals/Dreams.
  • Results-Focused Habits – Results tell Successful Leaders what works and what does not work. Championship-Level Leaders learn when it’s time to cut bait or pivot in order to get the results they desire. A

Trait #6 – Visibility

Walkabouts help keep the lines of communication open with the front line employees, who were able to share with their CEO real company issues they are having that are not being timely addressed by their immediate supervisors.

Trait #7 – Positive Mental Outlook

When you wallow in Negativity, your fight or flight centers of the brain are able to coopt or overwhelm the Prefrontal Cortex, causing it to slow down. Championship-Level Leaders understand that positivity is the springboard of all creativity, insight and good decision-making and that maintaining a Positive Mental Outlook expands their thinking, opening up their entire brain, which improves their ability to lead, make sound decisions, solve problems and overcome adversity.

Trait #8 – Anticipation

Because Championship-Level Leaders have a very Clear Vision of the destination of their company, they are able to anticipate future problems, future obstacles and future adversity.

Trait #9 – Clear Vision

Championship-Level Leaders have a detailed, well thought-out plan for the future of the company they work for and because of that clear vision, they are able to get their management and employees to buy into that plan. This means everyone in the organization is pulling the same cart, in the same direction.

A clear vision becomes a blueprint for the company to follow, bringing everything they are pursuing into focus.

Trait # 10 – Persistence

“Luck visits the Persistent.”

What is Persistence?

  • Persistence means never quitting on your dream.
  • Persistence means taking action every day on the goals behind your dreams, whether you feel like it or not.
  • Persistence means never giving in to your doubts.
  • Persistence means you stay on task despite making costly mistakes. Successful Leaders view mistakes as learning experiences and nothing else.
  • Persistence means you pick yourself up after suffering devastating failure. Successful Leaders believe you only fail when you quit.
  • Persistence means not letting rejection or being ignored stop you from moving forward. Successful Leaders take emotion out the pursuit of their dreams and goals.
  • Persistence means not allowing distractions to shift your focus.
  • Persistence means not letting fear stop you in your tracks.

Trait #11 – Courageous

When things are going well, it’s easy to be courageous. But, when things are not going well, these Crucible Moments can make or break a leader. Championship-Level Leaders do not give into fear.

Trait #12 – Master the Fundamentals

Successful Leaders are focused/obsessed with the fundamentals. The great leaders mentor their team to focus on and become masters of the fundamentals. When you are a master of the fundamentals, that means those fundamentals have become daily habits. When fundamentals become daily habits, each member of the team is able to maintain their high levels of performance.

Trait #13 – Effective Communicators

Championship-Level Leaders do not talk AT their employees, they talk TO employees When you talk AT someone there is no opportunity for feedback, no back and forth, no discussion, no brainstorming. It’s a one way conversation that puts up a Stop Sign for discussion.

Talking TO people fosters feedback, input, ideas.

Trait #14 – Outlier Mindset

The most Successful Leaders are Outliers – they do things differently than the other competitors within their industry. They are trailblazers and non-conformists.

Trait #15 – Calm Under Pressure

“Calmness, not skill, is the sign of a matured Samurai.” – Tsukahara Bokuden

Championship-Level Leaders are masters of their emotions. They understand that uncontrolled emotions lead to bad decisions. This is because when the emotional center of the brain, the amygdala, becomes amplified, the thinking part of the brain, the prefrontal cortex, shuts down or temporarily hibernates. When that happens, the ability to make logical decisions is overpowered by emotions.

Trait #16 – Seeing What is Invisible to Everyone Else

Championship-Level Leaders visualize future problems, solutions to those future problems, opportunities and alternate routes towards success.

Trait #17 – Embrace Change

“The Only Constant in Life Is Change.”- Heraclitus

Championship-Level Leaders are Visionaries. They are able to see changes that will occur five, ten or twenty years into the future.

This “Vision” is not some innate talent – it’s the byproduct of hard work. Successful Leaders read two to three hours every day of industry-related content, which helps them maintain and grow their knowledge-base. With this “Virtuoso knowledge” they are able to keep their finger on the pulse of their industry.

This constant preparation and anticipation of change enables them to quickly pivot and respond to that change, gaining market share in the process, at great cost to their competition.

Trait #18 – Mentors of Future Leaders

Championship-Level Leaders are Success Mentors to their employees. They develop their employees to become successful future leaders.

Trait #19 – Process Perfectionists

Behind every Leadership success story are Proven Processes.

All Successful Leaders follow a proven process, a process that, through experimentation, consistently works.

While organizational dreams, and the goals behind those dreams are important, even more important is creating a process that will lead to the achievement of your organization’s goals and realization of your organization’s dreams.

Successful Leaders are obsessed with creating some process that transforms dreams and goals into reality. Without a proven process, dreams and goals are unreachable.

Successful Leaders focus on creating a process that works because they understand that proven processes force everyone on their team to pull the same cart the same way and in the same direction. With every member of an organization pulling the cart as one, company-wide goals are much easier to achieve and organizational success, much easier to attain.

Eventually, those organizational processes eventually become organizational habits and this is important because process habits automate organizational success, improving the bottom line.

Tom Corley is an accountant, financial planner and author of “Rich Kids: How to Raise Our Children to Be Happy and Successful in Life”, Effort-Less Wealth, Change Your Habits Change Your Life, Rich Habits Poor Habits and “Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals.”

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