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The Four Qualities that Define Purposeful Leaders

Originally published
Originally published: 11/1/2013

Committing to leadership will take your company to the next level

Editor’s Note: Over the past seven months, Wade Mayfield has been writing about what it means to be a purposeful leader. He kicked this series off in May with 3 Components of a Foundation of Purposeful Leadership. In June, he discussed Standards, Goals and Coaching. Subsequent months covered: Understanding the Value of Time; Knowing One’s Strengths and Weaknesses; Processes, Procedures and Organizational Structure; and Being Prepared. This month, Wade wraps the series up with Part VII: The Four Qualities that Define Purposeful Leaders. You’ll find all of these articles archived on

If you’ve been following this series on Purposeful Leadership, you know we’ve covered a lot of ground on what it means to be a purposeful leader. Now you have to do something. This is the call to action for leaders who want to take their company to the next level.

Purposeful leaders understand that nothing happens until they make it happen. At Thermal Services, we have identified the “Four Qualities” that define the actions of success and purposeful leadership. Let me walk you through each of them and show you how, by focusing on these “Four Qualities,” you can not only make things happen in your company, but you can also be a positive influence on those you have the opportunity to lead.

The “Four Qualities” of Purposeful Leaders are:

One: Leadership – “Worthy of being followed.” Simply put, you must be worthy of people’s admiration. You must be the example for others to follow. I look around the business world, the political world, the sports world, etc., and I see a lack of good positive leadership. We all have an opportunity to make a difference in the world of leadership today and show people a much better and healthier path. People are hungry for good leadership and ready to follow someone who’s willing to be that positive figure.

Two: Candor – “Able to talk about the good, the bad and the ugly, while leaving dignity in place.” The quality of the conversation is everything. The deeper the conversations taking place in your organization, the healthier your organization will be. You have to confront problems without letting emotions such as anger or malice impede you. You have to be the one who sets a tone that stipulates, if there is a problem, we are going to confront it head on and deal with it. Don’t let problems linger; they never fix themselves. Be strong enough to let people know where they stand, and never take their dignity away in the process.

Three: Tenacity – “The unquenchable desire to win.” You have to want to get up every day with a strong desire to win, to excel, to do your best. You are the only person who can do this; no one else can motivate you. You are the one who must make the decision to be the leader.

As a motivated leader, you need to align yourself with other people who are motivated. Don’t waste your time with lazy or apathetic people. You can only reward motivated people. Don’t get me wrong: you have to find the “right seat on the bus” to truly maximize people’s motivation. But you simply can’t motivate an unmotivated person.

Make sure you are motivated and that you spend your time with other motivated people. When you do this, a lot of good things will start to happen.

Four: Execution – “Take a plan and put wheels on it.” Mike Brodie, one of my partners, said this as well as anyone: “Go make something happen.” We cannot be, or become, theoretical companies. We need to keep things clear, simple and concise so people know instinctively what to do. Don’t hold “theory” meetings; make sure people are walking away with call-to-action tasks and that they report measureable results back to you. I would also recommend that you, or another manager, make sure the execution of the plan is simple, straightforward and clear. People will act on a task they understand and that is easy to do or accomplish. At Thermal Services, we spend a lot of time making things simple.

The “Four Qualities” is based on the concept that everything begins and ends with leadership. You have to commit to being a leader and always remember that leaders lead. Leaders assume risk, leaders provide hope, and leaders provide perspective to those they lead.

I once heard a great quote: “It takes a very steady hand to hold a full cup.” As leaders, we need to remember that we hold many full cups, and we have to make sure our hands are steady.

I’ll conclude this series on Purposeful Leadership with this final comment. The last of the “Four Qualities” of Purposeful Leaders is the important role of execution. You must be a leader to execute, but you have to execute to show leadership. They are not mutually exclusive. Some of my proudest and most enjoyable times came with leading a new initiative or leading change in our company; when I was on the front line where things really matter and I got to directly make a positive difference in my company and on people’s lives. So don’t just sit on the plan without a call to action. Remember, you’re the one who has to do something. Now just go do it.   

Wade Mayfield is president of Thermal Services, Inc., Omaha, NE, an hvacr firm with over 100 employees. Wade is both a student and practitioner of the management skills necessary to sustain company growth, empower managers and employees and build a wealth of happy and satisfied customers.  This series shares some of the basic practices of Wade’s management philosophy. 

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