Things Exceptional Leaders Do Better
Exceptional leaders do many things better than good leaders. For the purpose of this article, I don’t think it’s necessary to define exceptional or make a distinction between exceptional and good. Each of us has our own definition that can be applied here. I’m sure we would all agree, though, that we recognize exceptional leaders when we see them, even if we can’t specifically define it.
In my opinion, there are some qualities that all exceptional leaders have. This list is not intended to be all inclusive or suggest that good leaders don’t have some of these qualities. It’s my opinion only.
- Communication skills are stellar. Exceptional leaders’ communication skills are first rate. It’s not that they write good emails or memos. It’s that they understand how important communication is. As an example, they listen exceptionally well and don’t make assumptions before asking questions. They use communication as a tool to drive their organization to success.
- Delegation is second nature. Delegating is not something they think about, they just do it naturally. These leaders have learned that for the health of the organization and the individuals in the organization, including themselves, that people need to grow and develop and this happens through delegation. Their own success is measured not by what they do, but by what others accomplish through their guidance and leadership.
- Failure is allowed. This is not to say that failure is accepted with an ‘oh well’ attitude. But exceptional leaders know that learning includes making mistakes. If there are no mistakes they are not taking risks. Bill McGowan, the founder of MCI, had a sign in his lobby that said, “Make Some Damn Mistakes”. His belief was if they weren’t making mistakes, they weren’t taking risks. He clearly was a leader in both his style and vision.
- Admit when they are wrong. No one is infallible. Even with research and analysis as underpinnings of your decision making, mistakes will happen. And we are all human. We overreact at times. We make assumptions and draw conclusions and act on those conclusions as if they were fact. Admitting when we are wrong, whether it’s in a decision or action, is a mark of an exceptional leader.
- Building a culture of fun, creativity, and cohesiveness. Pick up a magazine or read something on the Internet and what are the common denominators of great companies? They create a culture where people can be creative and grow. The environment is fun and the team is cohesive. It’s no accident when this occurs, exceptional leaders built it.
Are you good or exceptional?
As you read this list, where do you see yourself? Maybe you have some of these qualities already and can develop them further. What takes you from good to exceptional may be as simple as the frequency of your actions. For example: maybe you delegate, but only to a few key people. Or maybe you delegate, but hold on to some things and assume you are the only one who can handle those items.
I encourage you to rethink some of your beliefs and see where you can move from good to exceptional. Like many things, it takes a conscious effort. It will require you to step outside your comfort zone. It may even mean you have to accept failure in yourself.
There’s nothing wrong with being a good leader. Frankly, I wish there were more ‘good’ leaders in companies. But if you want to grow and stretch yourself, if you want to see what your true potential is, then taking the step towards becoming an exceptional leader is what you need to do.