Essential Traits for Exceptional Leaders: A Guest Post By Cindy Anderson

Essential Leadership QualitiesExceptional leaders exhibit courage, passion, confidence, commitment, and ambition. They nurture the strengths and talents of their people and build teams committed to achieving common goals.

On a fundamental level, most leaders share a common set of leadership skills and traits that helped them grow into their leadership position. In the very best of leaders, we innately expect them to exude strong communications skills, accountability for themselves and their teams, and demonstrate compassion and creativity.

We believe these are some of the qualities often overlooked that bring individuals closer to exceptional leadership:

Entrepreneurial Mindset

An entrepreneurial mindset is an important quality in business, but it doesn’t have to just live at the executive level of an organization. The very best of leaders create an environment for individual contributors to bring their own entrepreneurial spirit to the table.

What does that actually look like for an organization to have an entire team of entrepreneurial minds? It means that all employees, no matter their title, are empowered to think creatively, to be innovative in their role, to be curious about how to improve the company or better serve customers, and to take risks confidently. By leading in a way that encourages others to innovate, you create a workplace where employees see themselves as the entrepreneur of their own position. You create the space to allow individuals to dream big, to be responsible for themselves and to contribute to something more. With that environment, individuals and the company can reap major benefits.

Strong Self-Awareness And Self-Management. 

This means having the ability to accurately perceive your own emotions and then, manage those emotions effectively.  Face the truth about who you are and do not judge it as good or bad.  Know what your triggers are – positive and negative.

Connecting With People, Not Just The Work. 

As a leader, it is beneficial to you and those who work with you that you understand who they are on an individual level. What are their strengths, weaknesses, personal interests or career aspirations? Knowing what drives and motivates an individual matters.

It’s not enough to just know those things; great leaders take it a step further. They invest in and connect with employees on a personal level. That doesn’t mean having to spend large amounts of time outside of work together, but it does mean pressing pause on work-related conversations at times and connecting on matters other than the projects underway.

Connecting on a personal level may seem impossible for leaders of large organizations, but it’s not. Middle-level managers can do this work with their teams, and in large companies, senior leaders can host monthly coffees with small groups of employees. These events aren’t required for employees to attend, but it gives individuals a chance, if interested, to connect with leaders in ways that the typical work environment doesn’t allow for. Remember, employees are more invested in and connected to an organization when they are connected to the people who lead that organization.

Demonstrating Authority Without Being Authoritative.

As a leader, you guide the team, set boundaries and define expectations. Too much control tarnishes the respect and trust that is necessary for great work to ensue. Individuals working under a leader’s microscope are less likely to feel engaged and are more hesitant to share ideas or take risks. Your team will respect and listen to you when you set expectations, ask for their input and then give them the space to meet those expectations.

Modeling Expectations. 

If you believe your team should continue learning, then do so yourself. If you want your employees to follow a certain process for reporting, then make sure you follow the same process. Demonstrating to your team that you hold yourself to the same standards you expect of them is powerful. That behavior demonstrates a level of equality, one that is hard to achieve when the titles of employee and employer are thrown into the mix.

When leading, it is important to note we all have different styles, personalities, wants, needs, and ways of expressing our emotions.  That is what makes us unique, and there is nothing wrong with being unique.

By incorporating these qualities into your leadership style, you will be able to become a stronger leader yourself and develop the leadership talents of others. It is not easy, and it takes purposeful work to enact these changes, but these traits are necessary to move from good to exceptional.


Join me, Cindy Anderson of Thinc Strategy, on Tuesday, August 14, 2018 from 1:00 – 2:00 PM EDT for “Leadership Traits”.  Eric Hobbs and I will discuss this topic further, uncover some of the most overlooked Leadership Traits and facilitate a conversation around what you can do in your business and personal life to step into your strengths. You won’t want to miss this opportunity to explore the essential leadership traits every leader needs for long-term success. Sign up is free!