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Part 2


Last week in Part 1 or our Powerful Leadership series, we looked at traits that top leaders had in common and concluded that they are strong communicators, results and people-oriented, visionaries and possess heightened self-awareness.

This week, I would like to share the following additional characteristics that set top leaders apart. Keep an eye out for those traits you share.

Sharp-eyed - Alert leaders are skilled at deciphering the meaning of what they are seeing and hearing. Top leaders examine their own and the behavior of others and ponder the significance of their behavior - including the message sent by tone of voice and body language. Top leaders not only examine behavior, they welcome and ask for more information. Paying attention helps to identify the best ideas and create the setting for productive dialogue. Do you feel when the mood of the people around you has changed? When inspecting your financial reports, do you sense that a business shift is occurring? Can you feel when your competitors are about to make a move? All part of being an observant leader who recognizes even the smallest details.

Passionate about what they do - Passion drives energy. You can't fake it (if you do, that's another article). All top performing leaders are extraordinarily passionate about their work and how it affects others and their organization. I have found that one way to achieve passion is by working with people who inspire you. Another is having a purpose, which great leaders do. It's finding that little nugget in your job that you can connect to that gives you purpose and fulfillment.

Possess deep curiosity - Einstein commented, "I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious" (there's that passion again). Many of the greatest leaders I've known or read about maintained a childlike curiosity all their lives. They ardently explored new topics and wanted to know people, learn about them and build relationships. Leaders who are curious create a workplace atmosphere that encourages innovation and creativity.

Ask great questions - Voltaire noted, "Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers." Asking great questions is akin to curiosity and eagerness to learn and to know. I like to think of it as enthusiastically inquisitive. You know how it goes - you're at a meeting and someone asks a great question that opens up a flood of conversation. Interestingly, in my classroom and workshop facilitation, I have found that, frequently, the same person asks all the great questions. Here's a wonderful Inc. Magazine article to help you kick off three or four good questions for those future meetings: 100 Great Questions Every Entrepreneur Should Ask

Convey trust - A trusted leader is a combination of outcomes (what you have achieved), who you are (competencies, knowledge, skills and characteristics), and how you make people feel (motivated, good about themselves). Genuine leadership, the kind that brings people together to accomplish great things, can only happen when a leader is trusted. Demonstrating deep-rooted values, personal sacrifice for the team's benefit, and creating a safe environment that supports and serves your employees are meaningful ways to convey trust.

Whether a nation navigating through dangerous times, a nonprofit fulfilling its mission, parents guiding children to become productive adults or a business organization striving for success, powerful leadership sets the tone. People will take note and emulate what their leaders do, so lead in a way that you would like to see duplicated. It's been said that "a great leader can take a tenuous business model and make it successful, but a weak leader can ruin even the best model."

In the infancy of this New Year, think about where you are and which traits you would like to enhance in 2015. Then, observe these traits in those you admire and make it your New Year goal to identify actions you will take to strengthen and enrich your game.


"Leadership is not about titles, positions, or flow charts. It is about one life influencing another."    ~John C. Maxwell






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