As a leader, does your foundation sit on bedrock or sand?
Just like your home, the foundation of your excellence as a leader must be firm and sure, able to withstand even the fiercest storms.
If 2014 is the Year of the Employee, then it becomes even more important to deliver exceptional leadership for them. If time and talent are key ingredients in your quest for organizational success, then protecting and nurturing these key resources becomes your number one priority.
Certainly, the overarching quality that separates good from great, and great from exceptional, is the amount of genuine concern that exceptional leaders have for their team members. It is that deep concern that resonates through all of your decisions, and that feeds your team to continue to give you their best…this is what exceptional leadership is really about.
Think of leadership success as a continuum, with managing at the far left side. As you move beyond managing your team towards leading them, the skill set moves from hard skills (more Intelligence Quotient based) to soft skills (primarily Emotional Quotient based).
So, what are those traits that define exceptional leader?
Integrity: The ability to say what you mean and to follow through. To live by your word and to act as though it is your bond. When you have integrity, the various parts of you, be they private or public, have a common theme. And while it may take some time for those around you to recognize your integrity, once they have, this is the trait that takes team members and turns them into followers.
Vision: Your ability to see the future you want to create and to continue to move towards it, regardless of obstacles. When you are clear as to what you are envisioning, your communication becomes more clear.
Concern: When you are concerned about those that you lead, you want what’s best for them. And you will help them to achieve that goal. When you are concerned, you see team members for who they are and not simply their role on your team. Sometimes, concern can be gentle encouragement, sometimes its letting someone leave the team.
Creativity: Exceptional leaders need not be artistically adept to be creative. Creativity manifests in many ways: the out-of-the-box solution to a problem; seeing partnering opportunities others may miss. Your creativity will inspire, which creates followers.
Results Orientation: Exceptional leaders get the mission accomplished. Ultimately, your success as a leader is tied to the results you inspire. The ability to keep people focused, inspired and creative makes you exceptional.
Courage: Stand up for what’s right. Speak against inequities. Remember the Emperor’s new clothes and be willing to be the child who spoke the obvious. It takes great courage to speak when those around you are silent.
Is it difficult to nurture these traits in yourself? Yes, it takes time and a bit of introspection to keep making those mid-course corrections necessary to embody these traits fully.
Nurture them anyway.
Building the foundation of your exceptional leadership may be easier with the guide of a professional consultant. If you’re ready to take your leadership to the next level, we invite you to take a look at the ways Boxer Advisors can help. For C-level executives, our Transformational Leadership Forum, is a great place to start. Learn more about the Transformational Leadership Forum here.
Boxer Advisors is a full-service consulting, training and coaching firm with more than 50 professional consultants, facilitators, and coaches and carefully selected partners providing services to Federal agencies and Fortune 1000 companies since 1996.