Here are five qualities that make leaders exceptional:
- They make company goals personal. It’s one thing to vaguely declare, “We will increase revenue by 50 percent,” and another thing to say, “What are you good at, or what do you need to learn that will help us succeed?” When an employee feels valued and able to contribute, he or she will work to achieve a personal goal.
- They let others succeed. Exceptional leaders don’t need to take credit for every positive outcome. They understand that ideas can come from anywhere, and that they are responsible for building future leaders. They can see potential, and even find ways to let others succeed.
- They are great communicators and listeners. Lots of people are really good at talking; in fact, they can be quite eloquent and inspiring. The big difference with exceptional leaders: They know when to shut up and listen. Really listen. They know they don’t have all the insights and ideas. And they acknowledge honest feedback, suggestions, and comments from all sources.
- They delegate. Control freaks rarely make great leaders; they waste their days following up on competent staff. Exceptional leaders know how to solve problems: They hire great talent and let people do the job. By handing responsibility over to the right people, they are able to move on to the next big project and success.
- They don’t punish. Everyone makes mistakes. Repeat: everyone. An exceptional leader understands this and allows for inevitable mistakes. That’s how people learn. A major mistake can be a career disaster, but an exceptional leader refuses to see the employee as a loser. Another quality: The exceptional leader forgets about the mistake; it’s never brought up again. Done. Finished.
These five qualities are all learned. If you begin to incorporate them into your daily interactions, you are well on the way to becoming an exceptional leader.