Leadership is a strength that Jim Tressel, OSU football coach from 2000- 2011, inspired  nearly 200 Lakewood, OH community leaders to carry out with grit and selflessness into the community at the 2014 Community Leadership Breakfast. Tressel expressed that leadership isn’t defined by your position or rank. Leadership is an action you take to serve others. Jim gave five characteristics needed for a great team, for serving others or reaching your potential. These are the characteristics in order of importance:

  1. Unselfishness
  2. Grit – staying with it no matter what the obstacles
  3. Be curious – as in how to do things better
  4. Talent
  5. Great work ethic – what it used to be (years ago) isn’t good enough now.

Which comes first the chicken or the egg? It is all a matter of perspective. For the person who becomes a leader, they go from characteristics to actions that serve others and then as a by-product it creates a position or rank. On the other hand if a person seeks an expert in a specific area of interest, their perception can first come from knowing the position or rank of the leader and then learning how they have served others.

What is the process when using the five characteristics? Which of these are action-based and which are thought-based? Are they interdependent? Are they executed in a logical order considering the order of importance?

Unselfishness (or selflessness) and curiosity are thought-based and then evolve into action-driven. The knowledge we gain drives the unselfish or selfless actions that are carried out to service others. Work ethic, talent and grit (I think of grit as perseverance) are part of your personality either naturally or based on life experiences. They work interdependently as a launching pad to the acts of selflessness that serve others. All of this combined, reflects what you’re truly passionate about and then attracts those to you who view you as a leader.

The characteristic of a great work ethic has evolved with the digital age. In the world of social media and internet marketing, the thought leaders in these areas demonstrate the evolution of a great work ethic. Work ethics a generation ago required people to work at a physical location, be accountable face to face with co-workers and bosses. The digital age has redefined work ethics. Even though a world full of people is available to connect with, we can just as easily choose not to interact at any given moment. To become a leader in a world with 7 billion people, takes a thousand times more grit, and a great deal of intentionality and persistence to continually educate ourselves. It is also about creating a work ethic that doesn’t waiver. Internet thought leaders such as Pat Flynn, Chris Ducker, and Mike Michalowicz are prime example of how these five characteristics have eventually ranked or positioned them as thought leaders that are serving other by sharing knowledge freely and for free, sharing content that has value and builds trust with an audience that keeps growing.

Using the five characteristics, develop leadership skills that will allow you to be of service to others. Unexpected opportunities may be right around the corner when you are seen as a leader. Lead on!