I am thankful to have had the opportunity to work with, learn from, and talk shop with countless Hall-of-Fame basketball coaches over my career.  From dinners with Bobby Knight & Hubie Brown, to watching Coach K & John Calipari run practice, to meeting John Wooden & Dean Smith, to interviewing Brad Stevens, Tom Izzo and Jay Wright, I’ve been able to closely observe the qualities of master leaders.

Here are 13 qualities of a great leader:

  1. A great leader is purpose driven. Their position is simply their platform to teach life lessons, to positively influence people, and to be a part of something they love.
  2. A great leader is a big thinker. They think long term and they dream on a macro level. They don’t look at where their team/company is, but rather where their team/company should be and will be. They know that their own creativity and imagination are their only limiting factors.
  3. A great leader has high character. They do the right thing when nobody is watching and they hold everyone in their company to a high standard of excellence. They will willingly sacrifice winning to do what is right and they model high character every day of their lives.
  4. A great leader embraces change. They embrace the societal change that comes with millennials and they embrace the spur of the moment changes that require split second decisions and strategic adjustments.
  5. A great leader has empathy. They know empathy is one of the sharpest tools they have in their toolbox, as empathy helps forge meaningful connection with their team.  Before rushing to judgment, they always take the time to view each situation through the other person’s lens.
  6. A great leader takes calculated risks. They don’t play it safe for a sense of false security. They know you can’t achieve much in business or in life unless you are willing to leave your comfort zone and take intelligent risks. And they have no problem living with the consequences of their decision.
  7. A great leader is decisive. They have strong convictions relating to their company culture and standards and to their business philosophy, and they have no problem making the decisions to fully support each.
  8. A great leader uses their authority appropriately. They know that respect must be earned. They know that the title ‘leader’ carries a tremendous responsibility, a responsibility they gladly shoulder and utilize wisely. And they don’t feel threatened. They want everyone in their company to be a leader as well.
  9. A great leader is an effective communicator. They know that nothing has been taught until something has been learned. They are able to communicate one-on-one with the entire organization and through digital platforms, like text message and social media.
  10. A great leader is a servant leader. They put the needs of the organization, of their teammates, and of their employees before their own. They consciously serve everyone in their company on a daily basis and acknowledge that the organization is bigger than them.
  11. A great leader is courageous. They don’t fear failure. They don’t worry what other people think.
  12. A great leader is fully committed to the betterment of their employees on and off the court. They are fully devoted to helping an employee develop their skills.
  13. A great leader works on their craft every single day.  They take pride in learning on a daily basis. They have the humility to know that no matter long they have been coaching or how successful they have been, the day that they stop learning is the day they need to retire.