Over the past 10 years, I’ve been fortunate to sit in thousands of meetings across the globe with some of the best leaders in media and entertainment, from Oprah Winfrey to movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.

It’s absolutely awe-inspiring to watch many of the world’s most recognized entrepreneurs work their magic.

Over the years, I’ve identified a consistent set of traits that continue to surface when interfacing with great leaders. The best of the best are passionate, innovative, demanding, caring and are ultimately incredible leaders.

Very few people possess all of these traits, but I’d argue the successful entrepreneurs I’ve come across have a majority of the following.

1. They surround themselves with smart people.

The success of a great leader is not an accident--and most would agree it’s not a testament to their ability alone. They consistently surround themselves with a strong base of talent. They also recognize there are too many moving parts to control singlehandedly, so they put their focus on what they do best and delegate appropriately. Most importantly, they delegate to those that have their specific interests at heart.

2. They demand accountability.

Respected leaders ask questions that typically relate to determining accountability at the outset. They don’t play Monday morning quarterback: Rather, they ask the tough questions up front, scope out both the upside and the risks; and then make a decision with two points in mind:

  • Who is responsible for overseeing it
  • What are the metrics of success or failure.

And of course they hold those accountable who accepted the responsibility.

3. They understand the power of thank you.

True leaders understand that a simple thank you goes a very long way, regardless of your title. Successful companies aren’t successful by accident. They typically demand long hours and ultimately retain talent by keeping people inspired by an emotional connection. Great leaders know how to sustain that--because there is nothing more deflating than busting your hump, putting all of your passion into something, and ultimately feeling unappreciated.

4. They truly inspire others.

Motivating leaders believe wholeheartedly in their offering, regardless of challenges that arise. While at times their passion can be viewed as delusional, they recognize the basic point: A team needs the vision and confidence of a great leader. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat in meetings and watched the room shift from a state of depression to a mood of optimism in less than 15 minutes, thanks to a positive leader.

5. They are engaged in their surroundings.

Great leaders value their time and that of others, to everyone's benefit. They expect structure to meetings, substance to discussions, and aim to stay on schedule. In exchange, you get their complete attention. They are present and engaged--no mobile phones in hand during a conversation.

6. They seek out positive energy.

Passionate leaders are inherently optimistic: They truly believe anything is possible and want to be surrounded with people that keep them inspired. Their frustration is most likely to be on display when there is either a roadblock--policy or people--or a wave of negativity. They have no time for pessimism; failure is not an acceptable answer.

I'd count myself fortunate if I acquired even half of these traits. Did I miss any? Sign in below to add a comment.