An exceptional leader differentiates him/herself by doing a few things differently and better. Many people believed that future business leaders needed a new set of leadership skills that recognized the new global economy that continues to be molded and shaped by rapidly changing technology and globalization.
They aren’t wrong. They were overlooking, however, the fact that fundamental leadership skills are characteristic of all great leaders, past and future. What differentiated exceptional leaders from great leaders, however, was not necessarily how to amend these characteristics but rather how to execute them better.
Want to become an exceptional leader? Here are six things exceptional leaders do better:
1. A great leader is exceptional communicator and speaker. An exceptional leader is better at knowing when to shut up and listen.
Being able to motivate and influence others is an incredibly important skill for a leader. The most exceptional leaders, however, are often those who ask more questions than they answer. Not coincidentally, they also know the right questions to ask. Typically, the reason exceptional leaders are great communicators is not because they speak well but rather that they are better at understanding with whom they are speaking.
2. A great leader is exceptionally idealistic vision setters. An exceptional leader is better at admitting when he/she is wrong.
Great leaders operate innovative companies that often challenge a business or cultural paradigm. Exceptional leaders are no different, except that their companies endure. Think about it.
3. A great leader is exceptionally organized and analytical. An exceptional leader is better at delegating.
I do believe that great leaders need to possess a high degree of organizational skill and be able to apply analytical thinking to understand complex business situations. Indeed, the age of Big Data is making these skills even more necessary. Exceptional leaders, however, understand the importance of and how to surround themselves with exceptional talent and delegate tasks and responsibility to them.
4. A great leader is exceptional problem identifiers. An exceptional leader is better problem solvers.
One trait that separates great leaders from the field is the ability to delve into a problem, ask the right questions, and understand the root cause of an issue. This is not as easy as many believe. Exceptional leaders, however, not only intuitively understand how to do this but also how to construct and assess the problem in terms of a solution. It’s a fine line that exceptional leaders understand.
5. A great leader is exceptionally confident decision makers. An exceptional leader is better at dishing credit.
A great leader is really adept at running a great company. An exceptional leader, however, does not necessarily run an exceptional company. The rest of the company does. Simple! Think about it.
6. A great leader is exceptionally smart. An exceptional leader is better at not being stupid.
Not being stupid is one of the most undervalued skills today. This goes beyond bad business miscalculations to include remarkably stupid personal decisions leaders make that inevitably seep into and tarnish a business. Exceptional leaders instinctively know how to keep their noses clean and avoid precarious situations.
So want to be an exceptional leader? Apply those 6 simple things and you are truly exceptional. The debate will assuredly continue about what exactly differentiates an exceptional leader from the rest, however.
This post is inspired by what Peter Gasca has written on Inc. here about this exceptional topic.
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