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Top 10 Leadership Traits for Business Success


Photo of Curt Nelson
Curt Nelson, President & CEO, EDC Inc.

In my book, The Recipe for Business Success, I dedicate a full chapter to 18 leadership traits that create highly successful teams and related businesses.  Over time, I have also developed a top-10 list of traits that I believe exemplify real leadership across my entire life:  Traits that ultimately became the personal brand by which I strive to be known by all with whom I associate, and a list by which I could “check” my life’s decisions as well as provide guidance to others.  Some of the items on the list came naturally to me and some are still a work in progress, but I believe strongly in every one of them and offer them to you to adopt / modify in a manner that makes you most proud of who you are.

  1. Culture is number one — the culture that you create and the culture in which you work has everything to do with your ability to succeed.
  2. Business is a sport — it is meant to be played to win, and it is meant to be fun — if you are not winning, and not having fun, change the game.
  3. Be humble enough to enlist the support of those you need and strong enough to push past those you don’t — if you set out to please all of those around you, you will fail to create change.
  4. At times it is appropriate to polish glass, and at times it is appropriate to break it — know the difference and be willing to do both.
  5. Always be willing to “do” what you need done — leading by example, not by position or title.
  6. It is not important that everyone like you; it is important that those you need to succeed respect your ability to lead them in the right direction.
  7. Have a strong sense of self and don’t compromise your core values for anyone or anything.
  8. Know your weaknesses and surround yourself with talent, recognizing that decisions made through the collective capabilities of the right team will always be better than those made alone.
  9. Continued success requires continual learning
  10. You are in charge of your life — if you let life happen to you, you will end up where others take you.  If you lead you will end up where you take you.

If you would like a copy of my book, you can find it in multiple formats here.

For more than 18 years, the Entrepreneurial Development Center (EDC), has helped accelerate the growth of high impact Iowa companies, whether start-up, early stage, or later stage growth, create business and leadership success.   You can learn more about how we work here.  If you have a business idea or are trying to scale your business, we’d love to talk to you.

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