Five Characteristics of Great Leadership

Several weeks ago, as the Outgoing Chairman, I was honored to speak at the Manatee Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner.  During my remarks, I shared a story that resonated with many folks in the audience.   At their suggestion, I am sharing an abbreviated summary of my comments in this month’s newsletter.

….As part of my remarks, I’d like to share a story with you. A story that dates back over 20 years when I first joined the chamber.  In the year 2000 my wife and I moved to Manatee County.  At that time, I was employed. I didn’t know anybody in the community – In truth, I barely knew my neighbors.  I was traveling a lot and didn’t spend much time at home.

In 2002 Ella was born. We made a family decision stay here and to begin building businesses.  The first thing I did was join the Chamber of Commerce.

At the first event I attended, I met Bob Bartz, Neil Spiritus and Marie Pender.  They each took the time to speak with me.  Bob quickly learned that I had spent a good number of years kayaking and invited me kayaking with the Chamber that weekend in Robinson Preserve long before it opened to the public.

There were about fifteen of us kayaking through the preserve that Saturday and it was an august group.  Included was a President of a local bank, President of the local newspaper, a leading attorney, the President of the Chamber and a variety of other community leaders.   I was amazed at the beauty of the preserve, but mostly, I was amazed at how open, inviting and humble the group was.

Over the past 20 years I have been honored to get to know many of our community leaders, some of which are still with us and some who are not.   There’s a common theme among those leaders who we universally respect and admire.  I would like to list 5 common personality characteristics.

Although everyone has an ego, these leaders consistently focus on Humility.  They don’t need to be in the limelight.  They actively look for ways to elevate others.  They know that by empowering others, they are securing the future.  They are securing legacy.

Bridge Building
For these leaders, the first step is always ‘Bridge Building’.  These leaders understand sustainable progress cannot be achieved without the assistance of others.  They actively work to engage as many people as possible building bridges, building trust and building the type of respect that withstands the test of time.

Once clarity and consensus is reached, once the bridges are built, they are comfortable leaning in on the project, providing leadership and strength.

Attention to Detail.
These leaders know that details matter. Little things make a big difference.

  • how you dress
  • how you treat people
  • The exactness of your messaging and communications
  • making sure the financial side of the house is in order

These details are the things that often determine long term success.


These are some of the most approachable people you will ever meet.  Most importantly, when you do speak with them, they are 100% present.  They are great listeners, and they listen with an intention to understand, not simply to respond.

These 5 characteristics have consistently been the cornerstone of great leadership here in Manatee County and beyond.  We continue to embrace these 5 characteristics because we know that community involvement, empowering others, building bridges and staying humble is critical to our mission.

….In closing I’d like to share a few ‘Thank Yous’

I’d like to thank the many mentors I have had over the years.  Some of whom are in the room this evening.  You have been my guide, my example, and my strength.  You saw more in me than I saw in myself and for that I am eternally grateful.  What you did for me made a difference and my mission in life is to pay it forward


The above comments are abbreviated from an 18-minute speech, but they get to the heart of the message.  I hope you find value in these five characteristics as I have.

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