The timeless qualities of top leaders
BUSINESS MATTERS BEYOND THE BOTTOM LINE - Francis J. Kong (The Philippine Star) - March 8, 2020 - 12:00am

“We are now entering the 4th Industrial Civilization” cries this motivational speaker.

Another one says: “We are in the era of digital disruption.” Yet with all the talk about AI, robotics and 5G plus some unfamiliar futuristic terms, some principles remain timeless especially in the area of leadership.

Learn from these two familiar figures in the field of business. One is a speaker and an author while the other one is a practitioner. Take a look at how timeless their principles are. Jack Welch, CEO of General Electric, says that the “Reality Principle” is the most important of all. What this means is the practice of realism in all things. And Brian Tracy gives us a list of what he would consider features and true qualities of top leaders. Who are they? Well, here’s the list:

Top leaders practice intellectual honesty. Realism is a form of intellectual honesty. The realist insists upon seeing the world as it really is, not as he wishes it were. This objectivity, this refusal to engage in self-delusion, is a mark of the true leader.

Top leaders don’t trust luck. Those who exhibit the quality of realism do not trust luck, hope for miracles, pray for exceptions to basic business principles, expect rewards without working or hope that problems will go away by themselves. These all are examples of self-delusion, of living in a fantasyland.

Top leaders see things as they are. The inspiring leader insists on seeing things exactly as they are and encourages others to look at life the same way. As an inspiring leader, you get the facts, whatever they are. You deal with people honestly and tell them exactly what you perceive to be the truth. This doesn’t mean that you will always be right, but you will always be expressing the truth in the best way you know how.

Top leaders take responsibility. The second key quality of motivational leadership is responsibility. This is perhaps the hardest of all to develop. The acceptance of responsibility means that, as Harry Truman said, “The buck stops here.”

Top leaders win by a narrow margin. The game of life is very competitive. Sometimes, great success and great failure are separated by a very small distance. In watching the play-offs in basketball, baseball and football, we see that the winner can be decided by a single point, and that single point can rest on a single action, or inaction, on the part of a single team member at a critical part of the game.

Top leaders get the winning edge. Life is very much like competitive sports. Very small things that you do, or don’t do, can either give you the edge that leads to victory or take away your edge at the critical moment. This principle is especially true with regard to accepting responsibility for yourself and for everything that happens to you.

Top leaders refuse to make excuses. The opposite of accepting responsibility is making excuses, blaming others and becoming upset, angry and resentful toward people for what they have done to you or not done for you. Any one of these three behaviors can trip you up and be enough to cost you the game.

Here are two things you can do immediately to put these ideas into action. First, be completely honest and realistic with yourself and every difficult situation in your life. Resolve to face the truth, whatever it is. Don’t wish, hope, pray, ignore or play games with yourself. Second, accept complete responsibility, especially when things go wrong. Refuse to blame others or make excuses. You can tell the strength of your character when you are under pressure. Be calm, controlled and constructive at all times.

Take a handful of peas and a handful of beans and put them in a jar. Now shake up the jar. Shake it well and you’ll find that the peas will go to the bottom of the jar and the beans will wind up on top. Leaders are like beans. They rise to the top when things get shook up. And what about extraordinary leaders? When things get shook up or even when they’re not, they look up! See what I mean?

Young speakers come into the scene all the time. Some of them introduce some fancy ideas that make good rhetoric but are not practical for actual application.  These ones are classic. And as one old famous jean commercial claim: “Classic never goes out of style.” So does leadership principles.

(Attend two inspiring days of leadership training with Francis Kong. His highly acclaimed Level Up Leadership seminar-workshop runs this March 11-12 at Makati Diamond Residences (near Greenbelt 1). For further inquiries or reservations contact April at +63928-559-1798 or register online at

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