What makes a leader special?

With my 23 years of experience, I’ve seen my share of leaders.  Some I’d rather forget, but learned a lot from and others I admire and emulate what they did and how they interact with their people.

As I look back and reflect on those that help me grow and develop, I noticed that good and great leaders have 10 things in common.   Here are the 10 common things I observed about the leaders that I’ve worked with:

1)      Listen to their people - When I say they listen, they really listen and respond to their constituents in a timely manner.   They value their interaction with their people and see to it that they make time to listen to their needs and concerns.

2)      Roams the floors – Just like Abraham Lincoln, a great leader spends time in their constituents’ work area and interacts with them.  They walk the floor and make themselves accessible.

3)      Believe in continuous improvement – their leadership paradigm is that the more they learn the more value they can add to their people.  They invest time to learn something.   Upon learning it they live it and lead others to what they learned to spread the knowledge and grow talents around them.

4)      Never quit – the word quit is not in their dictionary.  They know who to tap and ask for help to guide the team to get the job done.  They’re able to encourage and motivate the team to dig deep and muster the courage to work through adversity.

5)      Admit their mistakes – everyone makes mistakes, but great leaders admit their mistakes and apologize and make it right for their people.  They learn the lesson from their mistake and make sure that they address it in a timely manner.

6)      Love their people – they understand that people are their most important asset.  They value their people and make sure that they have their people best in interest when they’re making decisions.

7)      Add value to others – Great leaders always look for opportunity to add value to others.  They make this a priority to ensure that they seek opportunities to grow and develop their people.   When you grow leaders in your organization, you multiply the overall capabilities of your organization.

8)      Use story to convey their message – they know how to use personal stories to connect with their people and appeal to their people.

9)      Touch people’s heart – before they ask people to do something for them, they’re often the first one out there to lead other and work amongst everyone.

10)   Grateful for their people’s contribution – they appreciate the contribution of their people. Take the time to recognize and seek opportunities to celebrate their success and achievements.  They make it a point to make sure people know that their work is valued and appreciated.

I’m thankful that I was blessed with the opportunity to work with some great leaders.  As I close this post, I’d like to leave you with this quote from John Quincy Adams, "If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader."  Want to be a leader?  Make sure you do the same thing to help others and inspire them to achieve things they otherwise thought they could not accomplish themselves.  Be a leader and soar like an eagle.

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