Essential Traits Of Solid Leadership.

Slide 2
The Section 84 Deemed Dividend Rules

What to do to avoid the deemed dividend trap.

Slide 2
Taxation Issues for Canadian Corporations with Foreign Affiliates

An overview.

Slide 2
Using Joint Ventures To Capitalize On Real Estate Investments

Research tax-efficient structures to facilitate real estate investing.

Slide 2
The Replacement Property Rules

Using the Income Tax Act to avoid tax.

Slide 2
Corporate Tax Planning:

Utilizing the butterlfy.

Slide 2
The Corporate Attribution Rules

Navigating through the delicate nature of non-arms length transactions.

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Essential Traits Of Solid Leadership.

What characteristics do successful leaders have in common?  When reading books on leadership, which are the most valuable insights to apply to your career as a leader? 

We’re all different in our approach to leadership, and certain traits in one leader may not resonate or result in positive results in another.  The extrovert and introvert both have strengths and weaknesses that need to be uniquely addressed, but no one is any less equipped to be a successful leader because of his or her natural traits.

However, some characteristics remain common among leaders. A few of these traits are cogently and eloquently expressed by Mike Brearley in his autobiography The Art Of Captaincy”’. 

 As captain of the English National and Middlesex County Cricket clubs from 1977 to 1980 and again in 1981, Brearley provides practical insights into the marks of successful leaders, the majority of which seem to apply to interactions and dealings with fellow players (or peers/employees).  As such, his memoir provides another revealing indication that top management has as much to with placing, coordinating, and managing people as anything else.

 Although compared to American baseball, - since both use a bat and ball, batters, pitchers and fielders (the similarities pretty much end there) - Cricket is strikingly unique in its rules and in its process.  For example, while in baseball the fielders are essentially stationary in their positions on the field, other than the bowler, the 10 cricket fielders are free to position themselves anywhere on the field where it’s deemed their fielding skills would be most advantageous.  Normally it’s the captain's responsibility to determine where on the field the batsman will hit the ball, and place fielders there to either win an out or minimize runs scored.

 Given the myriad of options to the batsman on the oval-shaped cricket field, eliminating options by placing fielders is impossible, adding to the wide breadth of issues that the captain has to deal with at any one given moment.  Does he just play the field to get the out, or rather encourage the batsman (via fielder placements) to hit in a certain direction to minimize runs scored? How does the captain use his fielders - all of whom can be placed in any position – to preserve energy for their time at bat. 

 Coincide these issues with the enduring demands of test cricket – each match played over a 5 day period, with 3 2-hour sessions per day (more or less depending on umpire discretion), and the level of fitness and ability to endure variables out of the players’ control begins to plays a material role in the final outcome of any test match.


The Need to Establish Good Relationships With Stakeholders.

Achieving consensus for a given strategy or operational goal at the executive level can at times require patience and deft negotiating skill.  Good leaders are uniquely capable of recognizing when achieving consensus with the board - or main shareholders - is vital to the progress of the corporation.  This is perhaps the main objective of C-suite personnel – to manage relationships in the best interests of the company to facilitate its mission.

Brearley points to the importance of having a constructive relationship with the committee of the cricket clubs on which he was captain.  Many Cricket clubs, and countries (Australia, for example) historically segregated (prior to 1899)[1] the duties of the capital from those of the committee, even though the success of the team depended on the co-operation and unity of both.  Operationally, the captain was responsible for on-field success, yet the committee was accountable for personnel.  The traditional approach of the committee providing the group for the captain to work with and form into a working unit runs in stark contrast to what  management students and practitioners regard as integral to corporate success – that the captain – or the CEO in the corporate context – should at least have input into team members, using well-tested measurements as specialist and/ or technical skills, breadth of network, social skills, and past achievements to determine the final team roster.



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Brearley recognized this and eventually was able to sit on the committee at Middlesex, therefore having the ability to provide important information to the committee which they used to assess individual abilities and team make-up.

The necessity of the board and CEO to have strong and shared views as to the strategy and objectives of the company, and how to realize those objectives, is integral to the eventual fruition of the strategic aims which the CEO has envisioned.  If the CEO’s ability to select important team members is impaired, whether by the board or by any other means, then that decreases his/her chances of achieving the success which he/she was hired to create.  Possibly it may mean that separation from the company is imminent, if the CEO is being restricted in his/her reach to create an environment for success.

Over time, the captain – or the CEO – forms intimate judgments and preferences that are based on direct interaction with various team members, and they therefore provide important insights into who will be strong and where, and how certain people can fill important roles in facilitating the company’s success.

The first trait of sold leadership has as much to do with the environment in which he/she operates as much as it has to do with his/her abilities. 


Responding to Market Conditions To Maximize Advantage

Former American President George W Bush has been quoted as saying that no decisions coming across his desk were easy ones. Any issues for which there was a clear procedure to implement in order to render a decision could be carried out by one of his secretaries or department officials.  The decisions he had to make were never black and white, never without negative collateral damage nor appealing to all of his constituents, and a lot of times void of consensus among his cabinet members.  As it is in politics and national leadership, so it is in the corporate boardroom.

The ability of the CEO to quickly and decidedly jettison advice which does not provide value is necessary to maintaining effective leadership.  Having a clear understanding of what it is you and the company are trying to achieve, and a previously mapped-out process of how to get there, will go a long way to ascertaining what is good advice that can provide value and what is a waste of your valuable time. 

Additionally, an intimate knowledge of the people at the company, the market in which it competes, data analytics exposing trends, and company capabilities all contribute to a comprehensive knowledge-value base that can be used to confidently and perceptively disregard information and chatter that sidetracks the CEO from implementing the priority goals at any point in time.  This leads to a sensibility of what is required to reach objectives to maintain competitive advantage.



Multiple research studies show an interesting correlation between assertive leaders and corporate success.  True leaders are those who, after visioning and creating the company’s strategy, have the discipline and the fortitude to exert influence to ensure that the mission is carried out as planned.  Note that assertiveness does not have to be verbal, but can also be championed through action and example.

The task of implementing mission at companies as large as those of a Fortune 500 or 1000 Company involves the congruence of an incredibly large amount of logistical and administrative issues that must be dealt with seamlessly across company departments; invariably, some parts of the organization are going to get side-tracked unless someone is there to correct and encourage adherence to the ultimate goal.  This is the job of the CEO; it’s not an easy task, requiring simultaneous doses of encouragement, assertiveness, correction, motivation, and planning. 

 Memorable leaders,  - those who are remembered for their success in leadership– are those who, despite the ever-present challenges accompanying strategic implementation, execute diligently, refrain from giving in to the mental anguish of temporal failure, and who through their fortitude and personal discipline serve as a mentor and leader for all others at the company to emulate. 

 True corporate leadership, more than ever before, seems to accentuate skills of persuasion, communication, and influence as much as it does strategic vision.  People want to work with, for - and follow - strong leaders with an innate desire to produce success for all involved in their corporations.


[1] Brearley, Mike, The Art of Captaincy; Hodder and Stoughton Ltd; p80





Nicholas Kilpatrick is a partner at the accounting firm of Burgess Kilpatrick.  He leads the firm’s consulting and strategy practice and works with companies to enhance their Analytics, Forecasting , and Data Optimization functions.  The practice’s focus includes quantitative forecasting, corporate and unit strategy and planning.  Please visit our website at or on Facebook at for more information on our firm.








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