Top 10 Traits of a Successful Leader

The Top 10 Traits of a Successful Leader – As excerpted from: The Invisible Organization – by Mitch Russo

(c) 2015 All Rights Reserved.

As explained in the book, this page can be downloaded and shared with your team. The purpose of distributing this is so everyone is on the same page. If all of management understands what is expected by the CEO, then everyone’s vision is sharpened, clarified and a common mindset is established.


Once you master the specific skills needed to lead your Invisible Organization, your team will love and respect you. You will generate rock-solid loyalty from your team—and from your clients. If you are wondering how, here is the breakdown of the individual skills and traits that you and your staff need to succeed.

  1. Have a Clear Vision — The ability to see the future regardless of what others tell you will give you the conviction to succeed. In order to accomplish any great feat, you must have the end goal in mind. Past failures, critics, and people who’ll resist you because they are scared of change, won’t be able to stop you. Visualize your Invisible Organization in your mind, imagine what it will feel like, and know that you will realize it. A clear vision can be collaborative and a work-in-progress. By involving your management team, you will create loyalty and trust; you will teach them “best practices,” which is incredibly motivating. Train them to do the same with their staff.
  • What is your vision for your company?


  1. Be Motivated by Passion — There will be obstacles on the path to great achievement, and creating an Invisible Organization will be no exception. You need passion to execute in the face of unending hurdles. This is one of the most important ingredients needed to lead your team. Your clients and your staff will know if your passion is genuine. The stronger it is, the easier it will be to inspire others to follow you. Passion shows up when it’s needed most. In the face of hardship and challenges, your passion for winning and for serving your clients must shine through. Show your strength and dedication to the company and to the team by showing up strong—your enthusiasm, sense of humor, and clarity of vision make you a leader.
  1. Focus on Your Mission — Your mission is what drives everyone forward in a unified voice. If you are the founder, you had a goal when you first set out to build your business. If you truly believe, for example, that your clients deserve to be served at the highest level, then that’s your mission. No matter what industry you are in, your mission is to deliver and serve the best possible experience to your clients.
  • Are you passionate about your mission?
  • Can you communicate your mission clearly to others?


  1. Build Strong Credibility — Credibility goes hand-in-hand with confidence. You must know what you’re talking about and be convincing. If you can quickly and directly show the value of your offer before a group of investors or clients, you’ll be able to make the sale. Your integrity, experience, and credibility play a huge role in attracting teammates, investors, and clients. Credibility really means you have a track record of being “that guy” who gets it done no matter what. If you do so honestly and with integrity, your credibility will soar.
  • Can you define why you are credible enough for clients to trust you?
  • What could you do to increase your credibility?


  1. Be Honest — Honesty is possibly the most important human trait in personal and professional relationships. It’s extremely important to be honest with yourself. For me, being honest with myself means not making excuses for bad behavior—mine or anyone else’s. This also means that I make decisions based on a clear, honest assessment of any given situation. My management team knows this, and even though they may not like my decisions, they respect my honesty. I expect my management team, as well as the other staff, to honestly weigh all known facts before they make decisions. Whether your staff is virtual or not, they will notice this and conclude that your company is run by a team of people who are clear about their values.
  • Can you be direct and forthright with your team even when you have bad news to deliver? Or do you sugarcoat the truth and spin it instead?
  • Have you helped your team feel safe in an environment of honesty?


  1. Be Trustworthy — Trust goes hand in hand with honesty. If you are honest consistently, you will earn the trust of others. Trust is an important factor in making decisions quickly. An excellent book on the subject is The Speed of Trust by Steven M.R. Covey. I strongly recommend reading this book, because it provides specific strategies and techniques for building trust as well as rebuilding trust if it has been broken. It also explains how building trust can be converted to “relationship equity.” When someone can be trusted, no contracts or lawyers are required, just a strong handshake and the deal is done, the work started, the investment made. Afterward, you can paper the deal so no one forgets the agreement details. Since your staff, clients and vendors may be thousands of miles away and you won’t often meet with them in person, trust is crucial for the success of every Invisible Organization.
  • Can you effectively determine who in your organization deserves your unqualified and complete trust and who doesn’t?
  • Are you known to be trustworthy?


  1. Follow a Solid Strategy — Vision and a sound strategy will get you to the finish line. Craft your strategy, shape it, and plan for possible upsets. A tricky obstacle here is not to get so bogged down in planning that you never take action. Imperfect action and follow-through will always be superior to a perfect plan that never gets executed. There are dozens of books written about business strategy. Study the work of some of the greatest business minds that have invented great strategies such as Jay Abraham and Peter Drucker.
  • Do you have a solid strategy?
  • How much time do you spend with your team coaching them to help execute your strategy?
  • Do your failed strategies get as much attention and review as your successful ones?


  1. Have Empathy — Empathy is the key to establishing strong bonds with your employees, co-workers and clients because it leads to affinity. An individual who is warm and insightful will build stronger relationships than someone who takes a strictly intellectual approach. Focus on the other person and not on yourself. Make an effort to truly understand the person you are talking to and be genuinely interested in making a connection. Approach relationships with the mindset that every person has something to offer in terms of human experience. Knowing this, you’ll open up and your humanity will shine through.
  • How well do you know your staff?
  • Does your staff know you?
  • What could you do on a daily or weekly basis to improve your relationship with your staff and your clients?


  1. Master Communication Skills — Very few people understand the components of real communication. Listening is an art. You must establish a common reality first to communicate successfully and build a relationship. People find common interests in sports, hobbies, foods, movies, or work.

Here is a great example:

At a business mastermind with a group of high-level experts in their fields (most of them charging about $20,000 per day), everyone was asked to share something personal. When we began to share our deepest darkest secrets, something amazing happened. Poof! The big ego balloons popped. The facades melted, and all of a sudden we connected deeply as friends as well as business associates. The truth was that everyone had failed miserably in almost every aspect of their lives at one time or another. Yet, using our skills and abilities, we had also fought back relentlessly to achieve the success we now have.

Remember, this was a room filled with very successful business leaders. Many were multi-millionaires, and some were very well known. Yet one of us had been a drug addict, another had been involved in organized crime, another had been an international smuggler, and yet another had spent time in prison.

Nobody had led a perfect life. We all had made bad mistakes. We had suffered the defeats of failure, but in the end we got over it, picked ourselves up and continued on with life. That’s how we all had found success.

Once we shared the common reality of the challenges we had faced, we felt empathy. We bonded, and that bond opened the door for real communication.

  • What can you do to make the other person feel truly heard?
  • How can you make sure that your message will be received?


  1. Demonstrate Executive Mettle — “Mettle” is your ability to cope with difficulties or to face a demanding situation in a resilient way. It will help you turn your vision into reality, despite the doubters and critics. Mettle comes from your passion about your vision of the future for your company and products, and it will allow you to crystallize your determination into focused effort. All businesses go through phases of difficulty. Some CEOs fight for their lives (as in a legal battle), while others choose to give up.

Executive mettle means standing up to your Board of Directors when you are sure you are right and proving to them that your conviction is based on sound strategy backed up by your management team. This quality develops through experience by leading teams to successful outcomes.

The strength of your vision, your passion, and your conviction will hold your team together. But without empathy, communication skills, honesty and trust, you may temporarily get what you want, but you’ll rarely be truly successful. When you master the skills mentioned above you’ll be an extraordinary leader, especially if you have developed the advanced skill of building consensus.

It is a very powerful and important skill, because no leader gets very far without learning how to build consensus among peers and teams and developing the finesse to employ them carefully and artfully. New leaders don’t do that very well in general, while some leaders can do it naturally with a head nod. An experienced leader works behind the scenes to sell his project to his team before the big meeting, the big presentation or the board meeting by clearly and directly communicating with each person one-on-one, answering questions and dealing with their objections. They feel respected, because they have been given a chance to have their say. Later when new plans are announced, there will be no surprises. Everyone has already bought into the vision and knows where they stand. That’s true consensus building.


As excerpted from The Invisible Organization – by Mitch Russo (c)2015 – all rights reserved