With tens of thousands of books and articles written about leadership, the only thing between you and being a great leader is the investment of time, and what you’ll learn to practice. But what ideas do you follow? What formulas are best? Where should you begin?

What is it then that truly defines great leadership?

I’ve studied leadership, behavioral psychology, peak performance, philosophy and ontological coaching for years. I’ve come to the conclusion that the following traits and practices will forge you into a great leader, and hence a successful and respected business person.

  1. Great leaders know that their feelings come from how they think, and not their circumstances.

What’s the main reason that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the finest leaders of all time? He trusted his feelings and intuition that came from inside of him. He was surrounded by  the dysfunctional, harmful and dangerous actions of the masses. Yet Dr. King realized and followed his interpretations of his own thinking. In short, great leaders look inside of themselves for explanations. This allows them to live in clarity more often. And to the extent that you can stay clear, you will be effective as a leader and someone that others are compelled to follow.

  1. Great leaders know that judging others is not helpful.

I live by a simple rule: Judging another person says more about your state of mind than the other person’s. This goes back to clarity, as with most things.  When your head is cluttered, the emotion that will take the cockpit will be fear. When you are fearful, you’ll be prone to judge. But when your head is clear, you won’t be. Great leaders know that when their feelings are cluttered, disquiet, or insecure it’s time to go within to inquiry. They wait for clarity, peace of mind, and understanding. Now, with a sound mental state, they are empowered to make evaluations and take actions that are consistent with their commitments.

  1. Great leaders act from a feeling of inspiration, not desperation.

How many new and small businesses do you think fail because the owner/operator let things become desperate?  The answer to that is obvious. Yet, no matter how hard a person tries, if he or she doesn’t understand the purpose of feelings, acting from desperation will occur too often. Great leaders understand that gnawing gut feeling is an intuitive sign that they’re not seeing things correctly. Leadership is about staying clear, seeing what is really there and not reacting to the story that they make up.  Instead, the leader acts only from inspiration — when a person feels unencumbered, compassionate, and free.

  1. Great leaders are genuine.

It is okay, in fact encouraged to study greatness in others and emulate the strengths that prove to work in business and life. But great leaders do not act like someone else. They’re authentic, spontaneous, and natural. Their genuineness becomes an offshoot of clarity, nurturing one’s strengths, improving upon weakness, and never sacrificing integrity. Remember this: Without integrity, nothing works.

  1. Great leaders keep success in perspective.

There are as many definitions of success as there are people. You can also be certain, that if you are committed to your personal evolution as a business and leader in life, that your definitions and objectives will shift, and sometimes change completely.  I love what Jim Rohn, a personal friend of mine, who has since passed, said all the time in seminars, “Everyone should become a millionaire. Not for the money, but for the person that you have to become in order to earn millions of dollars.” Success lies in what, why and how to do something more than in the accomplishment itself.

6. Great leaders always come from love and service.

I know, some of you think that you just stumbled upon a greeting card, but I promise you, that this life principal is flawless and inescapable. Great leaders and great business people set their guidelines based on one overriding principle: Love and service for others. They grasp, above all else, that love is the epitome of a clear mind. So, when they’re jammed up and not reaching their audience or their business is flailing about, great leaders look to love. How to help others then becomes obvious. And the magic formula for real, lasting business leadership and sustainable success is that it is impossible to operate from love and service without your entire life becoming more wonderful than you could have imagined.