The exceptional (but rare) traits of brilliant leaders
Leadership training can teach you a thing or two about managing millennials, leading teams that bring diverse conditionings and skill-sets, and inspiring great work. But leadership goes over and beyond that.
More often than not, exceptional leadership is about being an inspiring human being first. Some personality traits that transform managers to exceptional leaders can only come from introspection personal evolution with constant learning at the core.
What are these traits?
Passion for excellence
Transforming from individual contributors to leaders is by far one of the most crucial professional transformations people experience in their careers. It is easy to get overwhelmed and give in to the urge of lower standards in favour of getting things done. But the best leaders know how to channel the fire in their belly into their teams, to constantly raise the game.
Curiosity – about everything
Curious people make the best leaders. They constantly question the old style of doing things and are always on the look out for real problems their organizations and teams can solve. They are clued in to major shifts and minor changes in the society, the consumer, and the industry and how it impacts the work their team delivers. They inspire their teams to bring fresh perspective from different sources, and to respond to new challenges with a resounding “yes, let’s try this!”.
Less sensitivity for hierarchies, more for new ideas
Nothing stops innovation in its tracks more than bureaucracy and shying away from proposing new ideas due to the fear of overstepping boundaries. Exemplary leaders know how to shatter these boundaries and bring ideas and opinions from all levels of employees. They listen to new, young professionals. They weigh in the opinions of front-line employees who interact with customers in person. Most importantly, leaders who change the course for the industry know that ideas and great work doesn’t depend on designations, it depends on attitude. They respect breadth of experience and perspective over length of service.
Human vulnerabilities and empathy
An emotionally distant leader finds it difficult to engage his or her employees at a level deeper than the boss-minion equation. Leaders who bridge this gap are able to build teams that will stay up nights to transform the leadership vision to reality. But often, this requires leaders to know their employees beyond designations. They must be genuinely invested in their professional success and personal well-being. This vulnerability to forge deep human connections, and the empathy to see one’s employees as people, are crucial ingredients in building strong and lasting teams that constantly deliver beyond the brief.
Clearly, being an exemplary leader is much more than just delivering great work. It is all about being a well-rounded individual who has the ability to bring hands and heads together and turn vision to reality. It is about questioning status quo. It is about being a good friend and a virtuous human being first. What are some personality traits that you have noticed in inspiring leaders?