The factors behind Successful Leadership Part 2

As I noted in a previous post, leadership became a passion of mine precisely when I found myself having to lead. I immersed myself in the study of what works and what doesn’t. And perhaps unsurprisingly discovered the principles of leadership that led me to see business in entirely unique ways.

Over the past 33 years, I’ve pulled together 17 crucial factors that affect successful leadership.

These factors are motivation, tolerance, trust, purpose, vision, attitude, awareness, determination, commitment, endeavor, tenacity, belief, faith, inspiration, self-control, willpower and patience.

I’m going to delve into some of these now.

Smiling male dentist posing with female assistants at office


By definition, vision is your ideal future. But the key is to ensure that once established, your vision is a shared one. The people around you must have the same commitment as you. If that doesn’t happen, then a breakdown is sure to happen. A good example would be if one partner wants to expand the business, the other is quite happy with the status quo. It’s not a question of  right and wrong distinctions, just a matter of differing visions.


Attitude can make a huge difference. Being consistently positive may be hard but it is extremely important nonetheless. As a leader you are being watched, even studied by those you lead. The leader sets the example implicitly, whether the attitude be positive or negative. Most people want to be positive so it’s important to lead that way. The benefits to your staff are incalculable.


Awareness is a personal understanding of your identity and that of the people around you. Knowing your team’s core beliefs, what motivates them, what makes them tick is invaluable. Once you understand that, you can lead them in a deftly personal way.

More factors affecting leadership will be explored in the next blog.

If you are running a business and struggling with leadership issues, I’d like to talk to you. My business coaching will help you define a vision for your business and walk you through the steps to become a better leader – that delivers superior results.

Podcast: Lessons for Effective Leadership

In this episode you’ll discover the traits and skills that you need to be an effective leader. Dr. Coughlin shares his insights based on decades of experience.

Hello and welcome to Ascent Dental Radio. A program dedicated to the balance between the clinical aspect of health care and the business of health care. And now here is your host, Dr. Kevin Coughlin.

kevin-transparentWelcome. My name is Dr. Kevin Coughlin. I hope you enjoy the next following words of wisdom over the next few minutes. We will discuss certain things to think about as it relates to leadership. I’m an owner of a small business in Massachusetts with approximately 150 employees. And over the last 33 years, I’ve learned an awful lot and have made an awful lot of mistakes.

At this time, I would like to discuss factors that affect leadership. Many of these ideas have been taken from other authors and experts in the area of leadership and business ownership and some of my own thoughts. What I’ve developed over the last 33 years are generally 17 factors that I think directly affect successful leadership. Failure to address and become an expert in each of these 17 areas can significantly decrease the success of your leadership. These factors are motivation, tolerance, trust, purpose, vision, attitude, awareness, determination, commitment, endeavor, tenacity, belief, faith, inspiration, self-control, willpower and patience.

Businesses are very similar to relationships. The best of businesses and the best of relationships are successful because of excellent communication, what I refer to as BLT. Generally the pattern is Believe, Like and Trust each other and I feel the same thing occurs in relationships. When that believe, like and trust has broken down or has failed, then generally partnerships similar to relationships end up in either divorce and dissolution or just a failure to thrive.

I’d like to first talk about motivation, which I place as number one. It is a huge key to success in my opinion. Remember, an important concept when it comes to discussing motivation is what motivates one person may not motivate another. It’s necessary to be a successful leader to find the switch so that you understand what’s motivating the individuals around you and it’s critical to learn how to use that switch.

The second point, tolerance, basically involves respecting other’s views. That doesn’t mean you have to agree with their views, but you should respect them. I strongly suggest you never sell yourself out. Respecting and listening is different than agreeing. You should try to understand where the individuals are coming from and hopefully try to provide information so they know where you’re coming from. In the end, realize that they may not understand exactly how you feel and unless you can articulate it well, it will be a huge stumbling block in order to achieve excellent leadership.

Trust; trust is necessary in order to create the correct environment. Remember the triangle that I speak of in most of my podcasts, BLT. It is critical in almost all things that will continue to be successful that you believe, like and trust in the individuals, the memberships, corporations or businesses you’re involved in. Keep in mind that it’s easy to say believe, like and trust, but in most cases it must be earned. As I review relationships and business practices that have failed and partnerships that have gone in a negative direction, in almost all cases, the believe, like and trust was not earned.

Next, there is purpose. It is what we should be driving or what should be driving every aspect of your life and your business. What is your ultimate purpose? That question you should ask yourself and you should write down what your thoughts and answer should be. You should know what the purpose is of the people around you, which many times is just as important as what your purpose is. It can make a big difference if your team is not all striving for the same purpose.

Vision is also important. By definition, vision is your ideal future. It should include your values and remember what you want your organization to be may not be in agreement with all your team members. It is critical that once you’ve explored your vision, you understand your vision, that the people around you also have the same vision. Many times what I’ve seen in partnerships is one partner would like to expand and another partner does not. That doesn’t mean that one is right and the other is wrong, it just simply means their visions are different.

Attitude; attitude is critical. It’s a small thing but can make a huge difference. It is difficult, particularly for me to be positive but many times being positive, although it is hard, is extremely important.

The team members, employees or the people that you have relationships with will feed off your positive energy and it’s also true that they can feed off your negative energy. Although sometimes it’s impossible to always be upbeat, quite honestly the people around you are in most cases really only concerned with what works for them and what’s best for them and in most cases, they want to feed off your positive energy.

Number nine is awareness. It is a personal understanding of not just your identity, but the people around you and their identity. At the very core, you should know what your team members and individuals around you, what their core is made of, what makes them tick.

Number ten; determination. I cannot emphasize enough. After being involved with hundreds, perhaps thousands of employees over the last three decades, we could take an individual who’s determined, strong willed and make them a superstar, but if the determination is not there, the drive is not there, the wants are not there, then it’s extremely difficult to bring an average team member to a higher level of success.

You cannot become a leader yourself without determination. When the determination disappears, your organization and yourself will start to fail. Determination never takes a vacation, it never seems to get sick, and it has to be working every day. Business, like relationships, are difficult and enormous amounts of determination are necessary to make them both successful.

Commitment simply means you say and do what you mean, and you do not deviate from it. If I have seen time and time again amongst employees, team members and partners, they make a commitment but the commitment is not strong. As a matter of fact, it’s not even sincere. You have to talk the talk and walk the walk. You’re setting an example and people will respond. When you make a commitment, make sure you can keep it.

Endeavor; a successful business will take on its own endeavor. Your personal endeavor is what will make it successful. Keep in mind that these 17 traits are difficult to obtain, but if you understand what each one is, you will ultimately find your leadership and management skills will improve greatly.

Tenacity; simply means no matter what the challenge, you will never give up and you try to instill this tenacity in the people around you. So often today, my experience indicates that people lack tenacity. They’ll try hard for a few days, maybe a few weeks, maybe even a few months, but year after year, you have to constantly push yourself to be successful in leadership and management.

Belief is critical for success, but most important when it comes to belief, you have to first believe in yourself or others will not be able to believe in you.

Next comes faith. Again, similar to belief, you have to have faith in yourself before people will have faith in you. You must also show faith in the people and team mates around you and understand that in many cases they are working as hard as they can and trying to do the best they can.

You have to have faith in your team members and if you lose that faith in your partners or team members, then in general your business and your partnership and your leadership is going to be on the skids.

Inspiration; where do your ideas come from? Where do your team members’ ideas come from? In business you will always need new and fresh ideas. They could come from all walks of life, all different types of people, all different types of ideas, but you constantly need to renew your ideas and come up with new ideas.

Many times I find, personally, I get inspiration from the people around me. Many times it’s a certain story or something that I’ve learned about a team member or a partner that I fully didn’t understand or was unaware of. Think about those others, the people who inspired you and why they inspired you, and try to create that same atmosphere so that the people around and near you walk away inspired.

I cannot emphasize enough that self-control is critical. In the heat of battle, many times it’s difficult, some would say almost impossible to have self-control. But it is a part of success and leadership that is necessary. In most cases what I find is individuals will allow people around them to influence themselves.

Self-control starts first by understanding yourself, knowing the buttons that can trigger your reactions, and trying to maintain your personal self-control.

And in the end, it’s willpower, similar to determination. The constant drive to be the best at what you’re doing and to instill that willpower in the team members around you.

I hope you enjoyed this podcast. For this and additional information, please don’t hesitate to join for other information on business aspects, relationship aspects and how to improve your team members and your workforce.

I hope you enjoyed the presentation. My name is Dr. Kevin Coughlin.

The factors behind Successful Leadership Part 1

When I found myself leading a team for the first time, I didn’t know what I was doing. So I did what most successful leaders do, I immersed myself in the study of leadership – what works and what doesn’t. Along the way this exercise in self improvement became a passion as the principles of leadership opened my eyes to seeing business in completely new ways.

Medical team of three professional woman at dental surgery portrait

Over the past 33 years, I’ve pulled together 17 crucial factors that affect successful leadership.

These factors are motivation, tolerance, trust, purpose, vision, attitude, awareness, determination, commitment, endeavor, tenacity, belief, faith, inspiration, self-control, willpower and patience.


I put number one as motivation. But there is a catch. What motivates one person may not do the same for another. So the key is to find the motivation switch that works on the people around you and learn how to turn that switch on.


Tolerance is simply listening to and respecting other people’s views. You don’t have to agree with them but it’s important to understand why people think the way they do and let them know the same about your views. Easier said than done of course, but nonetheless it’s important that others understand your thoughts and vision in order for you to lead them.


Trust is part of something I call BLT: believe, like and trust. All three must be earned. Having reviewed failed relationships and business practices over the years, most of them, in my view, are connected to the failure of belief, like and trust.


Next, is purpose. What is it? Don’t just muse over it and let it go: write it down. Make it concrete and definable. Then know the purpose of your team. Your ability to pull together those possibly overlapping purposes will be key to leading your team and ensuring you all have the one purpose.

More factors will be explored in next weeks’ blog post.