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3 Common Traits of Elite Leaders

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Through experience, I have observed three foundational traits that set elite leaders apart from all others.


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written by

Shawn Lovejoy

“What makes a leader elite?”

Having coached leaders for over 15 years, I have gotten that question so many times.

Through experience, I have observed three foundational traits that set elite leaders apart from all others.

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In our coaching at CourageToLead.com, we work with leaders to become what we call: F.A.B.ulous Leaders—Focused, Action-Oriented and Bold.

Let me explain.

Elite Leaders Are F.ocused

In my book, Measuring Success, I discuss how “Leaders are focused on the prize.”

The most successful leaders I know are the most focused leaders I know.

As the skill level needed increases in your ministry or organization, so must your level of focus. Most leaders I know are on the verge of breaking through, but doing so will mean they must break loose from being overextended, overexposed and overutilized. As the organization grows, every leader must move from generalist to specialist.

Your focus will in large part determine your growth.

3 Common Traits of Elite Leaders

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Elite Leaders Are A.ction Oriented

An organization can not grow faster than the pace at which it makes decisions.

Why do we fail to take action? We are afraid. We have paralysis by analysis. Procrastination is a conditioned response to stress! Mel Robbins in her book The Five Second Rule, talks about what research proves: If you have an instinct to act on a goal, you must physically take some kind of action on that goal within five seconds or your brain will kill it. You must take action…within five seconds!

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If you are not taking action, you cannot change. You must be more decisive!

Action = Traction = Satisfaction!

Elite Leaders Are B.old

You do not have to be the most brilliant, just the most passionate. You can not just act. You must act boldly. You must be confident and authoritative. Leadership at the next level requires a certain amount of swagger.

Remember when Brett Favre played for the Green Bay Packers? He didn’t have the best skill or mechanics. What made him a hall of fame quarterback? Favre had what we call “Ice in his veins.” He had no fear. He didn’t play not to lose. He often threw caution to the wind. He wasn’t focused on the possibility of a mistake or fear of losing the game. He would drop back and sling it with no fear. Can you do the same?

Stop focusing on playing it safe. Stop making fear-based decisions. Drop back and sling it!


Shawn Lovejoy is the Founder & CEO of CourageToLead.com, and the author of Measuring Success: Your Path to Significance, Satisfaction, & Leading Yourself to the Next Level. He leads teams of coaches whose passion is coaching leaders through what keeps them up at night. He loves helping organizations and ministries accomplish their potential and gain or sustain momentum. Shawn has led a successful real estate business, a fast-growing megachurch, and now a fast growing coaching organization. He has been married for 25 years to his best friend Tricia, and they and their three children live in Birmingham, Alabama.