The Leader's "X-Factor" and Secret Weapon

Having worked with and observed dozens of high performing leaders, I have collected a list of the their "X-Factors" and "secret weapons" for successful leadership. It is not a one-cut diamond, it is multidimensional

Whether you lead a large organization, a small team, or perhaps lead yourself as an entrepreneur or business owner, there are attributes or qualities that enhance your efforts. 

#1 on my list: EMPATHY

  • Non-judgemental
  • Aware of other people's moods
  • Sees from another's perspective
  • Good listener

President Lyndon Johnson once said, "When you walk into a room, you do not belong in politics if you can not tell who is for you and who is against you." That statement applies to every "kind" of leader.

Empathy: your ability to read and respond to other people's attitudes and emotions


  • read people and then adjust their message accordingly
  • are aware of the non-verbal messages other people are sending
  • are flexible and willing to change tactics based on body language
  • do not ignore other people's emotions
  • are eager to sense the emotional mood and tailor their leadership style

I recently read about U.S. Army General Norman Schwarzkopf. His first command was in 1969 during a tour of Vietnam with the 1st Battalion of the 6th Infantry, also called the "First of the Sixth". They had a horrible reputation, lousy morale. The battalion's nickname was the "Worst of the Sixth."

Schwarzkopf's first action after the change of command ceremony was to get out among the troops, see why they were dubbed "the Worst". It was clear to see that his battalion had suffered from poor leadership. He needed to instill a new vision, get to know the soldiers, listen, adapt, and provide a new purpose. He didn't beat the troops down, he built the soldiers up. 

The battalion's turnaround was so strong that within a few months it was selected to perform more difficult missions - the kind carried out by a disciplined, well-led group with strong morale. 

How can you apply the "X-Factor" of Empathy today in your leadership role? You must get in tune, read, and respond to your clients and team. Leaders listen and then adapt!

Here's to developing and applying your "X-Factor"!

Steve Gutzler

In today’s fast-paced competitive work environment, how effective are you as a leader? Emotional Intelligence (EI), our ability to manage ourselves and others around us, is the single greatest contributor to personal excellence and high performance in leadership.

For information on keynote presentations, team workshops, and one on one coaching, contact Steve's team at: or call: (425) 681-9871.

The purpose of Leadership Quest is to help professionals develop their personal leadership, vision and emotional intelligence. Everyday I strive to help leaders and teams achieve their desired goals in sales productivity, leadership, time maximization, and life-balance. 


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