7 Things Exceptional Leaders Do Differently

leadership

There is no dearth of leadership tactics, articles, and leadership coaches on the internet, how is this going to be any different? 

This is not your average ‘How to Be a Good Leader’ article. What we intend to show you is what separates a “good leader” from an “Exceptional” one.

The best way to learn to be an exceptional leader is by observing others and learning from their experiences. What makes them stand out? What do differently that makes them truly exceptional?

According to Brené Brown, author of Dare to Lead, “Brave Leadership demands people to be courageous, self-aware, and put more importance on getting things right than being right.”

leadership qualities

How do they do that? With this, let’s dive deeper:

1. They are attentive listeners

As Malcolm Forbes said himself, “The art of conversation lies in listening.” One of the most important soft skills a leader must have is to be an attentive listener.

Your scarcest resource is your time. How would anyone follow you if you don’t care for them? The best gift you can offer someone is your undivided attention. The deepest relationships are formed by hearing the true voice of an individual with rapt attention.

You can build deep, meaningful relationships with your people by being empathetic. Knowing when to speak and when to remain silent is a skill set that is rare and requires time to master. 

As a leader, make it a point to speak last. You already know what you think, be unassuming and silent as everyone else speaks. Finally, give your opinion. The only way to know more is to listen more.

2. They Live By ‘Culture Comes First’

Culture is by far the most important thing to reinforce as a leader. As a word, culture sounds mysteriously vague. Yet it is the most crucial aspect of your leadership and organization.

In The Culture Code, Daniel Coyle defines Culture as a set of living relationships working toward a shared goal. It is not something you are.

It is something you do.

work culture

A great team is built by its people. Your organization cannot climb the ladder of success without a supportive, healthy team. Your culture should help generate cohesion and bring people closer together, working in cooperation.

Small decisions that leaders make can have a large impact on your company’s culture and its team’s productivity.As a leader, build a culture that shows who you truly are, what your organization’s core values are. 

3. They reward people for their honesty and are honest themselves

Everyone values honesty and great leaders encourage it. How does one one do that?
According to Adam Grant, it is by rewarding people for it. When your people feel heard they feel valued. Reinforce it with gratitude and curiosity. 

Telling the truth is difficult, often people choose the easy way out. Not everyone will agree with you, or even like you for that matter. Even you don’t like everyone, do you?
A strong leader doesn’t punish someone for their honesty. A leader’s goal isn’t seeking popularity but to create a lasting impact

The best way to expect is to lead by an example yourself. Reward & appreciate when needed, but also let someone know if they’ve let you down. Hiding disappointment only breeds resentment. Be open, direct and straight-forward.

Honesty is a crucial investment into meaningful relationships with others.

4. They Don’t Shy Away From Making Mistakes

Leaders are after all humans and make mistakes just like everyone else. 

What sets a great leader apart is his ability to take accountability and ownership. When you are truly confident, you don’t shy away from vulnerability. You don’t mind “looking bad”.

People follow your example when you are not pretentious. Respect breeds from a place of genuineness. With authority comes great responsibility and leaders don’t shy away from it. You will always find a great leader expressing gratitude and sharing credit. They even take the hits they don’t deserve and shun the spotlight.

Take the blame and share the credit. Let others shine and celebrate their accomplishments. It boosts the morale and confidence of your people.

5. They Are Inclusive

We come from everywhere! Great leaders know that and use it as an asset.

In a team-setting environment, when everyone belongs to different backgrounds, cultures, races, ethnicity, language, etc, one can either accept it and use it to their advantage or let it divide and fall. 

Embracing diversity, acknowledging it, and using it to bring people together is how one becomes a truly inclusive leader. To shed biases and prejudices is the way towards equality. Reinforcing diversity will bring in more values, ideas, and talent. 

The key is to realize that despite all our differences, we are striving for the same purpose, towards the same goal. When your leadership reflects that, people will want to listen to you and follow you.

6. They Are Humble

One of the most underrated leadership qualities is humility. 

If you are humble, you learn quickly, adapt to situations uniquely and take feedback effectively. No matter who you are, unless you are humble you will find it difficult to grow.

Confidence is essential but more important is confident humility. With the weight on your shoulders and the power that comes with it, comes a sense of responsibility to serve. 

A leader always remembers that and lives by it.

7. They Believe in Bringing Out The Best in Everyone

We all want to be a part of something bigger and impactful. 

Tell your employees, people, and clients what you desire, what you want to achieve. Share your values and what you seek to achieve in general conversations. If you want someone to care about it, your actions must reflect it too.

thought leadership

Great leaders are excellent observers. They focus on bringing the best out of their people. Take a cricket team, the best captain is the one who recognizes the strengths in each player, weaponizes their assets, and makes it their mission to win.

The way to do that is by asking for key takeaways. Don’t just ask for updates. This way you bring out the best in individuals by making them internalize and introspect. Performance peaks when an individual truly cares about his work and has missions of their own. 

We would love to hear your insights and what makes one a great leader. Drop-in your comments below.

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