10 Keys to Stand out as a Leader

 Leadership has been endlessly dissected and ultimately even with the advent of technology the fundamentals of leadership has not changed. Leaders should have the ability to inspire others to action. It is getting people to do things which they normally would not have done without the leader’s intervention. For me leadership is about three things dreaming big with a compelling vision, ability to inspire others and leading by example. I have expanded each letter of the word leadership to identify the key requirements for becoming a great leader. Here are the 10 keys that all outstanding leaders use to stand out and lead people to work towards a well-defined vision.

They are great listeners – Great leaders are great listeners. Leaders like Ronald Reagan were well known for their listening skills. When a leader listens to the team they feel the leader is part of the team and is willing to take into account the issues at hand. Leaders understand that for a team to perform they have to feel good about themselves. The ability to be heard is one of the core requirements for a human and a leader who listens can truly become empathetic and win the trust of their team. So all of us leaders have to see what our speaking to listening ratio is and adjust to ensure parity.

They have high energy – Great leaders are highly energetic. Sometimes a leader makes you think how they get all this stuff done. They are role models and remember that they are on display. Most leaders take care of themselves really well by eating well, sleeping adequately and exercising consistently. High energy ensures that leaders can sustain their concentration over a long period of time. Leaders know that they are on show and need to be cheerful throughout. Daniel Amen the expert on the brain says the brain is the CEO of your decision making ability. So avoid sugar, exercise consistently, read broadly, learn something new every day and sleep adequately. If we do all this our energy will be high and we have a better chance of hitting our goals.

They display a great attitude – Great leaders have a generally positive outlook on life and radiate that optimism to the people they meet. You can’t imagine a well-rounded leader who does not have a great attitude. Leaders are quick to praise others when something good happens and they take personal responsibility when things go wrong. Leaders also ensure everyone in the team is aware of what is going on and the attitude of the leader does rub off on the team. In terms of crisis like the one we are currently experiencing it is the leaders attitude that can help stand out in a sea of negativity.

They have a high level of desire – Great leaders have an above average desire to be successful. In other words they have a vision that transcends fears and they dream of things that normal folks would not. Leadership is an enormous responsibility and requires a lot of desire to get the job done. To set the vision a leader needs to think big and have a burning desire to succeed both as an individual as well as on organization. So clearly define your leadership mission and where you want your life to be in the next 5 years. At the same time you can define the vision for your team and organization.

They are committed to excellence – Great leaders are committed to excellence in everything they do. They ensure they are up to date on everything in their industry. They are on the cutting edge of the learning revolution. Leaders ensure that they sign all their work with excellence. They also understand that excellence is a journey and not a destination.

They are highly result oriented – Great leaders are extremely result oriented. It is one thing to set an audacious vision but it is a whole another ball game to deliver on the vision. This is what separates the great leaders from others. The true leaders understand that ultimately they are measured by their results and not activity. They have to be ruthless about getting the job done and delivering value to the clients they serve. An obsession with customer service is another hallmark of a great leader. This customer obsession will ultimately lead to better results.

They are committed to the success of the enterprise – Great leaders are more committed to the success of the enterprise than going for individual success. They sacrifice themselves to a larger cause and they ensure that their actions are in alignment with the overall mission and vision of the organization. Success of the organization is the true crown on a great leader. This is exactly the portrait of the Level 5 leader described by Jim Collins in Good to Great. So commit to a cause larger than yourself to really see how far you can go as a leader.

They are very honest – Great leaders are totally honest. They do not hide when failures happen. They take tough decisions when it is demanded. They don’t worry about changing personnel if the situation calls for it. In multiple surveys it has been well established that great leaders are all honest. This is also described as one of the key characteristic desired in a leader in the book "The Leadership Challenge."

They are totally inspiring – Great leaders are truly inspiring. Leaders inspire others into action. Leaders who inspire others will ensure that people who work with them will always give their best and deliver on their promises. Leaders are self-inspired and without internal motivation they cannot inspire others. Inspiration is a vital requirement for a true leader to fulfill.

They persevere in spite of great setbacks – Great leaders persevere when things go wrong as they inevitably will. The only thing that is constant in a leader’s life is the crisis. There will always be a crisis when something big is to be achieved. This is the true test of a leader and this is the time they show their class by persevering beyond the point where normal people would give up. True leaders never give up on their ultimate vision and march to the drumbeat of their own conscience even when everything around them tells them to give up.

There you have it the 10 qualities of great leaders. Great leaders are of course born but they are truly made by developing themselves on a continuous basis without losing sight of the vision they have set for themselves.

 The views expressed here are my own and do not represent my organization.


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