Great leadership comes in all shapes and sizes from Lincoln, Churchill, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Mandela and so on.

This makes understanding what great leadership is, and being able to define it exactly, more subjective than objective. Over the course of my career here are the seven E's that I have seen great leaders use to achieve high performance teams and generate inspired results.

The better you can do in each of these areas the better the leader you will become and the greater the results your teams will achieve.

Energy

It's hard to energize others when you don't have great energy yourself.
People with energy go 75-miles-per-hour in a 55-mile-per-hour world. Leaders rich in this "E" jump out of bed in the morning ready to take on all challengers. They don't need caffeine to operate at peak performance. Energy is infectious but it starts at the top.

Edge

Leadership often requires you to go against the grain, swim against the flow, and even break a rule or two. People with edge know which rules to follow, which rules to bend, and those which need to be broken. People with Edge know how to make tough decisions, they know when to say yes and when to say no, and they avoid the maybes. These solid decision-makers are more valuable than ever due to the turbulent times in which we do business.

Excite

Great leaders articulate a vision, one which both excites and engages their teams in a way that then gets to turn that vision into a reality. They spark others to perform, both through their own excitement, with the boldness of their vision, and the belief they create that success is inevitable.

Empowering

Great leaders know that great results come from great teams, not the just the actions of the leader. They empower their people to act by defining the required outcomes and then giving their teams the freedom to achieve them in the best way they know. They don't criticize failure; they know it's part of the journey to success, and they encourage their teams in smart risk taking.

Enabling

When you set your teams up for success, most will surprise you by accepting the challenge and being successful. You do that by giving them the right tools, and authority levels to enable them to do their jobs and achieve the goals successfully. When you set your teams up to succeed the majority will succeed. It is as simple as that.

Execute

When the going gets tough, the tough get going, and great leaders are prepared to step in and gets their hands dirty when needed. They know how to execute, and how to get their teams to execute. They can lead from the front, if needed, but are willing to let the team lead the charge and take the glory.

Encouraging

Encouragement is a low-cost tool which has a high-value return. I have never met a team yet that didn't respond well to praise, recognition, and encouragement. Great Leaders take the blame when things go wrong but give others the credit when things go well.


If you want to improve your leadership in 2017, then unleash your energy, be edgy and challenge the norms, be bold with your vision and excite your team with their potential. Tell them what needs to be done, give them the tools do it, and then step back, but be ready to step in with support and encouragement along the way.

Published on: Dec 22, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.