Captains of Industry: The Characteristics of Great Leaders

Great captains of industry are inspired business visionaries that build sustainable and enduring organizations.

They use and apply timeless principles and adhere to proven methodologies with rigor and discipline. They diligently follow certain immutable laws of organized human management and performance. They purposefully live by their highest and most intrinsic values, which underlie their spontaneity, clarity and certainty. Through exemplification, they inspire greatness and excellence in those they lead.

Great captains of industry also consider and care patiently about the long-term more than short-term objectives. They are modest and humble to their vastly ambitious humanitarian cause, and show willful certainty to their people. They are unpretentious and yet have great determination or resolve. They take little credit and project little blame. Instead, they just keep focused on their chief aim. They talk mostly about their organizational vision and their teams more than themselves. Their greatness is not just due to their business quest, but also due to their individual quest for self-governance and greatness. They desire to ambitiously create something larger and more enduring than themselves, something purposeful — a great company, a great cause, or some great world change. They define themselves and their mission by their impact and contribution.

“Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.”

–Steve Jobs

Great captains of industry carefully select and surround themselves with — or hire — the greatest and most congruent people and place them into the most resonant and meaningful positions. They are wise enough to let go of the dead-weighted, incongruent and unengaged people. They don’t blame others, external factors or bad luck and they don’t hope or pray for or rely on good luck. They know that what matters is what they do and how they can transform challenging circumstances or events into great returns.


Great captains of industry emerge and shine even when they or their companies have been harshly challenged, turning their so-called challenges into great opportunities with astonishing results. They see difficulties as catalysts to deepen their purpose and realign themselves to their highest and most meaningful values. They maximize their discipline, respond with greater creativity and heighten their prioritized and most productive actions. It is their resilience, not pure or partial luck, that makes up the signature of their greatness.

Great captains of industry set and live by high, exact and rigorous standards that focus on excellence for its own sake. They focus on building, creating and contributing. They are inspired by more than just salaries, bonuses or compensation plans. They are disciplined in thought and action. They care as much about the fulfillment of their highest values as they do their victories, as much about their purpose as they do their profits and as much about their usefulness to the world as they do their rewards.

Great captains of industry act more than react. They thrive more than survive. They create spectacular business performances regardless of any unstable environment. They observe what works, figure out why it works and build upon proven track records. They are wise and certain, but not invincible. They are more precautious and intensely prepared with a series of contingency plans. They are empirical and disciplined. They maintain their conservative approach.

“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried
anything new.”

– Albert Einstein

Great captains of industry give themselves permission to explore alternative paths to achieving their aims. They build enormous margins of safety for unforeseen events. They know there are no permanently stable times. They embrace the paradox of control and non-control. They know it is not what happens to them, but how they act. They are deliberate, methodical and systematically prepared. They ask themselves: What are the worst-case scenarios that could occur? What are the consequences of these worst-case scenarios if they did occur? What contingently plans are wise to put in place to address these worst-case scenarios?


Great captains of industry build their organizations one congruent and productive person at a time. They create work environments where hardworking people thrive and uninspired people disappear. They do not blindly acquiesce to authority. They love their mission, their organization and the people they work with. They allow for, face and pay attention to the brutal, unfiltered facts of reality. They do not follow the fads and trends set by others. They do not waste their time trying to motivate people.

Great captains of industry lead with questions more than answers. They dialogue and debate; they do not coerce. They create an environment where the truth can be heard. They listen to their followers for feedback. They have a goal to prevail as a great enterprise regardless of circumstances. They concentrate on what they could be the greatest at. They concentrate on what inspires them and what get their desired results. They feel they are destined to fulfill what they are doing. They can’t wait to get up and do it. They keep refining and polishing whatever they do until it is mastered.

Great captains of industry continually monitor, tinker and occasionally overhaul their organizations. They focus on exactly what they have accomplished relative to what they intended to accomplish. They eliminate waste and shed unimportant activities. They can say no to distractions. They utilize ‘to do’ and ‘not to do’ lists.

Great captains of industry inspire their consistent philosophy throughout their whole organization and build a spreading culture. They create unstoppable momentum with their enduring mission. They don’t look for one magic bullet or fall for the fallacy of the single cause or solution to their challenges. They accumulate many incremental steps, actions and decisions that gradually build persisting momentous results. They under promise and over deliver. They are truly inspired and therefore avoid hoopla and motivational hype. They let their tangible results count more than their words. They know they are never done so they pace themselves. They free up energy by working efficiently and effectively. They hire or surround themselves with other great people. They are great captains of industry.


About The Author

Dr. John Demartini, one of the world's leading authorities and educators on human behavior and leadership development, is the founder of the Demartini Institute, which offers an extensive curriculum of more than 76 courses on self-development, life mastery and leadership. Demartini's knowledge is the culmination of 46-plus years of cross-disciplinary research, and he travels internationally full time, addressing audiences in media, seminars and consultations. He is the author of more than 40 self-development books, including the bestseller The Breakthrough Experience, and he has produced numerous audio CDs, DVDs and online programs discussing financial and business mastery, relationship development, health and healing, the art of communication and inspiring education and leadership. Demartini has been featured in film documentaries such as “The Secret,” “The Opus,” and “Oh My God” alongside Ringo Starr, Seal and Hugh Jackman. He has also shared the stage with influential educators Stephen Covey, Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, Steve Wosniak, Tony Fernandez and Donald Trump. He has appeared on “Larry King Live,” “The Early Show” and “Wall Street,” as well as in the publications Shape, Leadership, Success, Prestige, Entrepreneur and O. For editorial consideration, please contact editor@jetsetmag(dot)com.

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