12 Most Alphabet Ending “XYZ’s” of Great Leaders

12 Most Alphabet Ending “XYZ’s” of Great Leaders

“Through zeal, knowledge is gotten; through lack of zeal, knowledge is lost; let a man who knows the double path of gain and loss thus place himself that knowledge may grow.” ~ Buddha

Are you breathing a sigh of relief as we wrap up this 12 Most ABC’s of Leadership series? It has been a long journey, and that journey expanded my vocabulary horizons as well as introduced me to inspirational quotes. Thank you for your patience and your kind words in the comment section throughout this Leadership series.

With great zeal, let’s zip up the XYZ’s of leadership…

1. Xavier

Did you know that Professor Charles Francis Xavier’s (Professor X from the X-Men) character development is based upon Martin Luther King? Xavier strove to break down the “fear barriers” between different peoples just like King stood for equality for ALL people. This fictional character is also highly intelligent as well as telepathic — yet he does not want to create an unfair advantage with his gifts. Finally, he is a mentor to others.

Be like Xavier and strive for equality in the workplace. If you are privy to confidential information about employees and co-workers, do not use that information for your personal advantage. Finally, proactively look for opportunities to mentor junior resources within the organization.

2. Xena

Since I present a fictional hero, I might as well present a fictional heroine. I never watched “Xena: Warrior Princess,” and if I did, I’d never admit it. However, just look at the playbill: she could kick my butt before her morning coffee! She spent six TV seasons cruising the countryside pursuing the “greater good” and righting wrongs while seeking redemption for past sins.

As leaders, we should use our past experiences and failings to achieve the “greater good” in our current organizations. Time to learn from our mistakes and benefit from the teaching.

3. Xenogenic

Ah, my first vocabulary word of this post. To be “xenogenic” is to be an offspring that is “completely and permanently different from the parent.” Some of us were not born with the proverbial silver spoon in our mouth. We may be the first to pursue higher education or escape abusive or addictive backgrounds. We have the opportunities to leave our pasts behind and be cycle-breakers!

Use that strength and perseverance to lead your organization! Then use those same gifts to teach others how to be cycle-breakers.

4. Xeric

To be “xeric” is to be adapted to a dry habitat. Leaders sometimes step into a barren wasteland in regards to a dysfunctional organization with low employee morale and leadership mistrust. The key to adaptation is to adapt — and then grow and flourish!

Great leaders join dysfunctional organizations, demonstrate they are setting deep roots with plans to stick around, and then invite the entire organization to grow and flourish with them.

5. Yare

Yare leaders are quick and agile. They avoid “analysis paralysis” and take decisive action. They use mental and emotional agility to respond to both successes and failures… strongly pursuing the successful paths and making quick course corrections when they encounter failures and obstacles.

6. Yester

“Yester” means “pertaining to yesterday.” For the purposes of this post, I see this as being a throwback or “kickin’ it old school.” I’ve mentioned that my grandparents raised me. They taught me to come early, stay late, and out-work everybody in the interim.

I admire the Millennial generation’s capacity for collaboration and learning new technology. However, I struggle with the overwhelming sense of entitlement from the Millennials. Millennial leaders will embrace the strengths of their generation while reaching back to “yesteryear” to embrace the work ethic to get the job done.

7. Yeomanly

Yeomanly leaders are staunch and courageous. They do not start padding their resumes and leaving behind three envelopes when events go badly. They own their own mistakes, as well as the organization’s mistakes, and they re-focus on successful outcomes.

8. Yogistic

I know I should take yoga but I never get around to it. I’d rather go for a 5-mile run or do a weight-lifting circuit. I am more than willing to work on my endurance and strength, but I never take the time to increase my flexibility! Flexibility prevents injuries. You cannot run or demonstrate strength if you are injured.

If we have strength and endurance in our leadership, that is great. However, it will take yogistic flexibility to protect our organization from injury. We need to be flexible with both our customers and our co-workers.

9. Zany

Zany leaders are unconventional. They are also comfortable enough in their own skin to laugh at themselves. Leadership requires competence, but adding the occasional zaniness is another way to distinguish you from the rest of the crowd. You do not want a mercenary workforce — you want a loyal workforce with personal investment in the team outcome. A little humor goes a long way towards building loyalty and camaraderie.

10. Zealous

Zeal is another way to build loyalty. When your employees and co-workers see your zealous contributions to team success, then they will try to match your devotion and intensity.

11. Zesty

Norman Vincent Peale, who wrote The Power of Positive Thinking, said “If you have zest and enthusiasm you attract zest and enthusiasm. Life does give back in kind.”

Build an enthusiastic organization by being the first one to bring the energy and enthusiasm. Be a magnet for high-energy, high-intensity, high-producing believers in your company’s vision and goals.

12. Zillion

Let’s wrap this ABC’s of Leadership series with some hyperbole. Be the best leader you can be for your organization — to the zillionth power! It is a shame that transparency and authenticity are over-used to the point of becoming discounted… because that is exactly what you need for your employees and co-workers to BELIEVE IN YOU!

Wake up each day, look at yourself in the mirror, and say…

“I am a zillion times better than anybody else to lead this organization RIGHT NOW! We will own our mistakes, we will celebrate our victories, and we will strive to make a difference EVERY DAY!”

Do not get caught with your zipper down by exhibiting these XYZ’s: Xenophobic (hating anyone foreign or strange), yacking, yammering, yanking (haphazardly pulling the organization in different directions), yapping, yawner (boring your organization versus captivating it), yelling, yellow (cowardly), yoyoing (indecisive), yucky, zero (as in “big fat zero”), and zirconia (as in “cubic zirconia” = FAKE).

Featured image courtesy of The Kufi Smacker 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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PaulBiedermann moderator

Fantastic job, Brian — following this 12 Most series through all the way to the end took a lot of fortitude (and every other word similar to it right on through the entire alphabet) and is something many would not have be able to do. Hats off to you for that! 

I think you have given us all a lot to think about over the past several months (years?) and I hope people have taken tid bits here and there to improve their own leadership skills. Thanks so much!


Brian, you did it. Congratulations. I have to admit, I was wondering how you would pull off "X", "Y", and "Z". You came through like the champ that you are.

Now that you have reached the Zenith, what will be the next Accomplishment?