exceptional leader

WHAT MAKES AN EXCEPTIONAL LEADER? 5 KEY QUALITIES TO MASTER

Linda international student writes on exceptional leader

Linda Adwoa Sakyiwaah Agyei, who will be studying MBA in Organizational Leadership in India, explains what makes an exceptional leader.

 

1. INTRODUCTION

All individuals, business owners, and executives have varying experiences and perspectives on the approach and qualities necessary for exceptional leadership, and not all situations require the same type of leadership style. Great leaders adapt to their surrounding environments and empower their followers to succeed together.

Growing up I was exposed to the idea of leadership colored with dictation, power, and self-promotion. We were made to believe the popular slogan that ‘leaders are born and not made’. This is an unfortunate but incredibly common belief that keeps the idea of leadership seemingly impossible and inaccessible to many. I have found that most people just believe that some are meant to be leaders and others aren’t.

It is true that some people are born with qualities such as charisma, strong public speaking or high emotional intelligence that make them better leaders than the average person. The truth is, you become a leader when you care enough about a cause-enough that you’ll do something about it when others won’t. In agreement with John Quincy Adams statement that‘’ If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader’’. Adam noted the importance of ‘we’ in leading and understood the relevance of leadership for the betterment of a larger group. And this is the idea that has carried forward to our time, changing the definition of ‘leadership’ as we once knew it.

The term leadership goes hand- in- hand with ‘mentoring’, ‘development’, and most importantly ‘team building’.

This article highlights five key qualities of exceptional leadership and how these qualities can help improve one’s career.

 


2. FIVE KEY QUALITIES OF AN EXCEPTIONAL LEADER

Though there are several leadership qualities unraveled by different authors; for example, the 21 irrefutable laws of leadership by John Maxwell (2015) and leadership and deception by Arbinger Institute (2000). However, for the purpose of monitoring, development and team building, five qualities have been identified as essentials. The following discussion explores the questions; how to develop leadership qualities? What challenges are likely to be faced in developing these qualities? How beneficial is it to leadership? And what is its implication for career development?

 

Concrete belief system.

It’s a mix of a lot of things, but first and foremost it’s about having faith in your beliefs. You can’t expect others to consider you a leader unless you have solid faith in your ideas. And once it’s there, you build on it by being a good communicator, listening to advice and constructive criticisms from others and setting examples by putting your foot down and not given up. In agreement with James Clear (2014), ‘We can develop this quality by being willing to test, experiment and try new things even when we are not certain’. This confidence makes a difference in our lives and always place us on top of our game.

 

Strategist

Exceptional leaders are always ready and passionate to serve and not just to be served. Great leadership is determined by one’s periodical blend of personal humility and uniqueness. Again, great leaders are incredibly ambitious but never for themselves. Rather, they possess the will to do whatever is necessary for service of this greater cause.  This is difficult because it requires investing a lot of time but when you are able to sacrifice, it will make you the exceptional leader you aspire to be.

 

Fairness and Firmness

Great leaders make the hard choices by being objective enough to follow the rules to its core no matter the circumstances. In harmony with an article posted by managebetter.biz (2012) in order to be fair and firm, you have to embrace your role as a leader, to confront people with the intent to redirect their energy to a positive end, to hold followers accountable, to recognize good performance and to give clear directions.

 

Visionary

Exceptional leaders plan ahead and are able to look into the future to identify opportunities and threats. They also devise ways and means to maximize the opportunities and minimize the threats. In accordance with James Kerr (2014), to be a leader with the vision you have to explore possibilities for change, seek ideas from like-minded people and also integrate different ideas into your thinking.

 

Motivators

Leaders have clarity of purpose and are great at articulating their beliefs. They aspire to be the kind of leaders that pushes people to be the very best they can be. Motivators have to inspire and uplift the spirit of their follows. Though it not an easy thing to do,  it helps to build a great team towards great development.

 


3. CONCLUSION

In as much as you consider the above qualities of an exceptional leadership you may have to adjust your behavior in order to earn the respect of your followers. However, ultimately, you have to be yourself. Know that it’s tough to succeed while trying to be someone other than yourself.

Leadership is based on influence, not position, therefore be the leader that others look up to. The leader that gives people courage to stand for what they believe in. Most importantly the leader that transmit courage to those who have none or not enough.

Read Linda’s student review here

How to be an Exceptional Leader

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