12 Most Thrilling “T” Trademarks of Great Leaders

12 Most Thrilling “T” Trademarks of Great Leaders

“One of the greatest talents of all is the talent to recognize and to develop talent in others.” ~ Frank Tyger

I welcome all of you talented readers who have traveled with me through this 12 Most ABCs of Leadership series. I hope you enjoy a couple of curves coming your way via these Thrilling “T” Trademarks, and I would love for you to contribute your favorite T’s in the comment section.

Let’s get started…

1. Talented

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said “A really great talent finds its happiness in execution.” The greatest leaders fulfill the promise of their talents through the successful execution of their organizations’ vision.

2. Tempered

I read a lot of fiction about samurai and warriors when I was a kid. The word “tempered” always brings up images of swordsmiths “folding and hammering” high-quality swords and katana using a forge. Each fold further tempered the steel and made it stronger.

Great leaders survive the intense forging heat of business competition, and they will not shatter as the opposition rains down blow-after-blow. They remain flexible and strong under duress, and victory will carry the day with these leaders in command.

3. Tenacious

What do you picture for the word “tenacious”? Do you see a Chicago Bears defense, or David Robinson going for a blocked shot for the San Antonio Spurs, or a pit bull terrier that will not relinquish its hold? Leaders border on the obstinate with their persistence to push through barriers to success. They have their mental “teeth” sunk into a good idea, and they are not letting go until they succeed with that idea!

4. Thankful

Nobody achieves greatness alone. Naysayers provide your motivation to succeed, and supporters pick you up when you get knocked down. The best leaders are thankful for all people, and all circumstances, that guided them to the pinnacle of success. They are quick to thank their teams, and the best ones redirect most of the praise to their team members.

5. Therapeutic

Some organizations barely survive an abusive leader or catastrophic event in the company’s history. At times like these, a therapeutic leader can work magic in restoring morale and self-esteem. They help employees believe in themselves — and each other — again.

6. Thermodynamic

Did I mention my bachelor’s degree is in mechanical engineering? Let me introduce you to two laws of thermodynamics:

In its simplest, mechanical form the first law of thermodynamics involves the conservation of energy. An object at rest has potential energy (a book on a shelf), and an object in motion has kinetic energy (book in the act of falling from the shelf). A great leader knows how to transform an organization’s potential energy into kinetic energy by pushing the organization beyond the edge of its complacency in order to achieve company goals.

The second law of thermodynamics considers entropy which is defined as the lack of pattern or organization (chaos). In fact, entropy increases in most naturally occurring processes, so it takes great leaders to find organizational equilibrium as chaos increases all around it.

Cut me some slack on the over-simplification — it’s been over 20 years since I used that mechanical engineering degree! Go surf the chaos and harness your organization’s potential energy to achieve great things!

7. Thrilling

We all hope to be enchanted within our lifetime. Great leaders can turn the stresses of a workplace into a thrilling pursuit to do something bigger, better and faster than ever! Their excitement is contagious, and that excitement gets people fired up to start their day with the hopes of making an impact! Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “Happiness… it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.”

8. Tireless

Samuel Adams knew how to stir up trouble: “It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people’s minds.” Now, think about that quote from an entrepreneurial perspective. You do not need to be big and established to rock the world! You DO need to be tireless in your passionate pursuit of your ideas.

9. Tolerant

How do you handle failure in others? How do you handle people that walk, talk, look, and believe differently than you? Great leaders are tolerant because they understand the power of diversity, and that the best successes are often built on a foundation of many failures.

10. Translator

American scholar Warren Bennis said, “Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” All successful organizations pursue a company vision. Great leaders translate that vision into attainable tasks that culminate in the achievement of that vision.

11. Tremendous

When in doubt… be tremendous! Let your extraordinary efforts and acumen provide the shining example for the rest of your team to follow.

12. Trustworthy

Horace, the ancient Roman poet, once said “What we learn only through the ears makes less impression upon our minds than what is presented to the trustworthy eye.” It isn’t enough for us to talk-the-talk and describe sacrifices and commitments we need from all of our employees in order to succeed. We need to walk-the-walk and lead by example. When we build and sustain trust through our consistent actions, we encourage loyalty and determination.

What did I leave off the list? What “T” trademarks do you look for in leadership? Here are some T’s not to be: Tactless, tainted, tarnished, tawdry, tempestuous, tentative, terrifying, thorny, tiresome, torturing, toxic, and traitorous.

Featured image courtesy of Bruce Berrien licensed via Creative Commons.


Brian Vickery


I love my wife and two daughters. I am blessed in that I also love my job as a principal and EVP of the Rocky Mountain Region for Mantis Technology Group. I am very excited about our Pulse Analytics SaaS social media monitoring solution for measuring consumer sentiment and supporting social engagement. I enjoy teaching and coaching. I graduated UT-Austin.

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Martin D Redmond
Martin D Redmond

Terrific  post Brian! My favorite is Translator!  In my experience that's been where companies I've worked for have fallen short too often!  Happy New Year...and good luck to the Broncs (Um...as long as they're not playing the Niners;-)


HI Brain I loved thermodynamic. Happy New Year by the way. I have changed my name to Richards over the New Year. 

PaulBiedermann moderator

I find #9 “Tolerant” to be very rare in managers, preventing them from being true leaders, especially when it comes to encouraging an environment that is not risk averse and where people are afraid to fail. Easier said than done, I know, especially in today’s environment — yet it’s the very thing businesses need and what innovation is made of.


Therapeutic, that is an interesting trait. I can only name a few leaders that brought healing with them. Perhaps some day I will have a supervisor with this type of trait :) Wow, cannot believe we are almost at the end of the alphabet!

Latest blog post: Private: LP


@Martin D Redmond Thanks, Martin. I agree - leaders, and management teams, build more vibrant and productive environments when they make a dedicated effort to persistently translate vision into tasks and short term goals.

Go Broncos. As for the NFC, that is wide open...and I think the Packers, Seahawks, and 49ers are the likely candidates to make it to the Super Bowl.


@AliRichards15 Great, now I have to worry about writing 2013 rather than 2012...and now writing Richards rather than Handscomb?!?

Yes, thermodynamics was a reach, but I thought it truly was applicable for converting the potential energy of a team into productive activity....and for surfing chaos to still find a way to succeed!


@douglaserice Tenacious kinda came natural for me as an undersized guy playing South Texas football. I needed to at least try to lift more...run faster...stay longer...and be a student of more than one position, so I could ensure getting playing time.

Then, when I saw people getting pink-slipped in the late 80s/90s during the oil crash, I vowed to be the Jack of All Trades - Master of a Few. That took a little tenacity, too.

It's a great attribute to have. The key is to walk that line between tenacious...and obstinent.


@PaulBiedermann I absolutely agree that having a "tolerance for failure" goes hand-in-hand with encouraging an environment of innovation, Paul.

Too many leaders are too short-sighted to have that level of tolerance.


@susansilver It's been a long road through the 12 Most ABCs of Leadership, but it has stretched my imagination. Yes, it takes a special leader to HEAL an organization, Susan.