Decision 2016

Twelve Factors that Build Phenomenal Leaders

A timely reflection on the fundamentals of leadership

by Dr. Kevin Coughlin

Mr. Coughlin, DMD, MBA, MAGD is an accomplished dentist, author and speaker. With his unique and powerful message, Kevin provides small businesses with actionable solutions when considering strategic change, as well as keys to compete in an expansive market. For more information on bringing Kevin Coughlin in for your next event, please visit

When you think of leadership you are actually thinking about influence. At its core, leadership is really about the influences on the people around you, and the ability to move them in certain direction to obtain certain goals or objectives.

When looking for leadership in your business or organization—perhaps in yourself—there are several factors that are part of all great leaders. Consider the following 12 factors to improve your leadership skills or help you identify those individuals in your organization that can take over leadership positions.

1. Motivation
Motivation is a huge key to any successful enterprise. Remember what motivates one person may not motivate another. True leaders can quickly identify motivating factors in an individual, in order to move them or influence them in a certain direction.

Some of the strongest motivators include money, fear, time and power. In most cases individuals will be motivated by several factors, however one factor will prove to be the dominant one. When you find out what it is and how to use it your ability to influence will be greatly improved.

2. Tolerance
Tolerance is really the ability to respect others views, without selling yourself out. It is of utmost importance to understand where the people or organization are coming from and to realize that they may not understand your position. In order to accomplish this you must be an excellent communicator.

3. Trust
Trust is necessary to create the right environment. Consider the three sides of a triangle—or the BLT, which stands for Believe, Like, and Trust. Your goal is always to attempt to have individuals and businesses Believe, Like and Trust you and your organization. When you accomplish this you are well on your way to professional and personal success.

4. Purpose
Purpose is your mission—the driving forces behind your business. You should clearly know and understand your purpose and the purpose of the individuals around you. In some cases, your team may not fully understand the real purpose of their job or their organization. It is a leader’s job to effectively convey their mission and purpose to others. Leaders know their purpose and the purpose of those around them.

It is important that a vision include values, and it is critical that good leadership make sure that the people and organization agree with your vision

5. Vision
All leaders have a clear vision, which is really what the ideal future will look like. It is important that a vision include values, and it is critical that good leadership make sure that the people and organization agree with your vision. When a leader’s vision does not match the organizational vision in you will have problems.

6. Attitude
This may seem like a small thing, but a positive attitude can make a big difference and conversely a negative attitude can also make a big difference—but not in a good way. People and organizations feed off of leaders, and those with positive attitudes will receive the best response.

7. Awareness
A leader’s awareness is the understanding of not just their own identity, but the identity of the people around them and their organization they represent. Each and every individual has a core identity, and the awareness to understand that core will improve your leadership.

8. Determination
It is impossible to become an effectual leader without this trait. Failure often accompanies leadership, and those who are not determined will never get off the mat and pull themselves back up. When determination start to disappear, leadership will begin to fail. Determination never takes a vacation or gets sick; it should be working every day.

9. Faith
A great leader must have faith that they will succeed, but equally as important is that they have faith in the people and organization around them. The best leaders believe in themselves, and it is critical that in order for your organization and the people around you to believe in you, you first believe in yourself.

10. Inspiration
Leaders are always looking for new ideas and different places to find them. Leaders are not afraid to solicit new ideas from others. Businesses constantly need new ideas to improve their products and or services, and some of the best ideas are inspired by something or someone.

11. Willpower
Effective leaders know how to control their emotions and do not allow others to control their emotions or dictate their reactions. Willpower is critical for all leaders and is absolutely necessary to succeed. Life and business are very similar things will almost never go as planned so be prepared.

12. Patience
Patience means that no matter what the challenge is a leader never gives up. Your business and people around you sense this and respond to it. Patience goes hand-in-hand with commitment, which means that when a leader says something, they do something. They take action steps, they set examples and when this is done people and organizations respond.

It’s interesting how patience appears last on the list, however success and effective leadership happen over time and not overnight.