I realized a few months ago that we had piqued readers' interest in our March cover story when we were deluged with phone calls from communications managers pitching the idea of including their bosses in our “Ten To Watch” package. Narrowing down the field to 10 impact players is like trying to decide who is worthy of an Oscar nomination. The process is part art and part science. The latter is determined by a subject's newsworthiness, which can be measured in a number of ways: volume of transactions, major deals in which they've played an integral role or unique circumstances their companies find themselves in. The art part of the equation is clearly subjective and centers on who is creating “a buzz” in the industry, for better or worse.

The 10 executives profiled in our first-ever “Ten To Watch” package are high achievers. Their professional expertise reflects the breadth and depth of the commercial real estate industry — from mortgage banking to brokerage to ownership to technology. Our objective was to simply identify 10 impact players and tell their stories. What we discovered along the way is that each of these individuals possesses extraordinary leadership skills.

What is leadership exactly? In his book, Jack: Straight from the Gut, former General Electric CEO Jack Welch writes that effective leaders possess the four E's: they have energy, they're able to energize others, they have an edge to make tough decisions and they know how to execute. For good measure, Welch adds passion to the mix. The book is one of my favorites because it successfully argues that there is a big difference between stewardship and leadership.

The executives spotlighted in our cover story definitely possess a combination of Welch's four E's. Leo Wells, president and CEO of Wells Real Estate Funds, clearly knows how to execute a deal. His unlisted REIT spent a staggering $2.6 billion on office properties last year, which sent shockwaves through the investment sales market.

Robert Taubman, CEO of Taubman Centers, definitely has edge. With the help of the Michigan Legislature, his company successfully defended a well-publicized takeover attempt by Simon Property Group and Westfield America Inc. And Jonathan Tisch, CEO and chairman of Loews Hotels, knows how to energize his employees. Though he occupies the C-Suite, Tisch is not above rolling up his sleeves to fill the most menial of hotel jobs for a day to stay in touch with the hotel business. He understands service is king.

The “Ten To Watch” also offers further evidence that America is indeed a great melting pot. Ed Padilla, CEO of NorthMarq Capital, was born in Havana, Cuba, and came to the U.S. at a very young age. Hamid Moghadam, CEO and chairman of industrial giant AMB Property Corp., was born in Iran.

Quintin Primo, co-chairman of Capri Capital, also stands out on the list. His company is one of the giants in the Fannie Mae DUS lending business and is the only African-American owned firm advising pension funds today. That speaks volumes about how far the industry still has to come to achieve greater racial diversity.

Each of their stories is individually unique, but collectively these ambitious professionals all share one point in common: they are definitely high-impact players everyone loves to watch.