Thirteen Essential Qualities of Successful Leadership and Becoming Enlightened Leaders

My three decade of senior and executive leadership, the quantitative research into intrapreneurship for my Masters Degree in Management, and my research for my Ph.D. dissertation in Leadership provide me with a unique vantage point about what are the important skills or traits to become a successful and effective leader. I will share not only what I have learned in the “real world” and the “academic world,” but insights as to the effects of overcoming adversity has on the shaping of successful leaders.

I personally interviewed sixteen prominent and successful sentior business excecutives of major companies, political leader (two US Senator), military (US Armry Major General) and academic leaders (University President) on leadership, entrepreneurship and overcoming adversity, including two self made billionaire entrepreneurs and several mega millionaires entrepreneurs, that were successful at overcoming adversity and had all became accomplished in their respective fields and well respected leaders.

The sixteen successful major leaders that graciously participated in my Doctoral Leadership and Overcoming Adversity research each had their own life journey. These sixteen prominent leaders were successful at overcoming the obstacles in their youth and adult lives which helped them to grow.

Prominent academic leadership scholars and best selling author, such as Bass, Bennis, and Kouzes & Posner, and others essentially agree with the sixteen prominent leaders that I personally interviewed identified nine important qualities of a leader.

Here are the nine most frequently cited leadership qualities, skills, or traits are found in the classic academic leadership literature, and were either cited or agreed with by sixteen leadership and overcoming adversity research participants for my Ph.D. dissertation in Leadership Studies from Gonzaga University:

1. Honesty or integrity
2. A high level of people skills and effective dealing with others
3. Initiative, assertiveness, drive, or determination
4. Excellent communication skills or willingness to speak up, take a position, or take charge
5. Vision (being forward-looking)
6. Strong desire or passion to lead, inspire or motivate
7. Positive attitude and self-confidence; personal charisma
8. Knowledge of the business and/or group task at hand; competence in their field or business
9. The ability to overcome adversity, obstacles, or set backs

These were the sixteen successful leaders who were interviewed for the leadership and overcoming adversity scholararly research for my Doctoral dissertatation:
Dr. Anthony Bonanzino (Intrapreneur turned Entrepreneur), Jack Canfield (Speaker, Best-Selling Author “Success Principles” and Co-Author of “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series), William Draper III (success Venture Capitalist and former President US Import Export Bank), Mark Victor Hansen (Speaker, Best Selling Co-Author “One Minute Millionaire,” “Cracking the Millionaire Code”, and “Cash in a Flash” and “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series), U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Monzer Hourani (Immigrant and Entrepreneur), U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye (D-Hawai’i), J. Terrence Lanni (Chairman & CEO, MGM Mirage-now retired), Dr. John Malone (Self-Made Billionaire, Chairman of Liberty Media Corporation, and Former Chairman of TeleCommunications Inc., and serial Entrepreneur), Angelo Mozilo (Entrepreneur, Founder and former Chairman & CEO Countrywide), Larry Pino (Entrepreneur), Dr. Nido Qubein (Immigrant, Serial Entrepreneur, Best Selling Author, Speaker and President of High Point University), U.S. Army Major General Sid Shachnow, Retired (Holocaust victim, immigrant, who went from US Army Private to US Army two star Major General, and now Best Selling Author), Dr. John Sperling (Self-Made Billionaire, Chairman of Apollo Group – which owns the University of Phoenix), Dr. Blenda Wilson (University Chancellor, University President and retired President & CEO of Nellie Mae Foundation), and Zig Ziglar (Best-Selling Author of over two dozen books and world renowned success and sales management expert and self help guru).

These sixteen successful major leaders that I interviewed for my Doctoral research into leadership and overcoming adversity specifically identified an additional four important qualities that are not commonly found in the academic leadership literature. These additional important factors or traits included:
10. Being a Servant-Leader, serving people, and especially being a humble leader
11. Having either religious faith and strong family ties, or both
12. Framing or recognizing the worst adversity as an opportunity, not as an obstacle
13. Having a mentor, or mentors, in their development as leaders and as individuals

These important and key thirteen leadership characteristics, skills, or traits which were presented in my Doctoral dissertation Leadership and Overcoming Adversity Research was peer debriefed and agreed with by five internationally known best-selling authors, and well-respected leadership scholars.

Five well respected leadership scholars, and true thought leaders on “leadership,” specifically Dr. Kenneth Blanchard, Dr. John Kotter, Professor James Kouzes, Dr. Paul Stoltz, and Dr. Meg Wheatley, all offered their reviews and positive comments on my scholarly leadership and overcoming adversity research conclusions and findings the Thirteen Essential Qualities of Successful Leadership and that show how to become an Enlightened Leader.