21 Characteristics of Outstanding Leaders

By Billy Arcement


There are a multitude of practices strong leaders use to bring success to their career. Look at the following list to determine how many you are now using. Remember, it’s never too late to learn something new!

1. Possess professional competence: Do you know what you need to know to do your job well? If not, what are you waiting for?

2. Remove obstacles for teamwork: No leader can lead alone. Don’t have a follower? You are not leading. Teams are more powerful than any individual. Get teams working for you. It’s the fastest way to increase results and your productivity.

3. Grow your employees: You speed up growth by knowing how to assign responsibilities. Match skills with job requirements. Delegate to add responsibility but maintain accountability. Don’t have secrets. Share what you know. It’s the right thing to do. Every employee isn’t the same. Respect their individuality and work with what you have. Finally, train them. Not training an employee is like hitting them in the face. Sooner or later their lack of training will be the knockout punch.

4. Be an encourager: We all need an occasional shove. It keep momentum going. Encourage, not discourage employees willing to grow and learn. Not doing so is a huge disservice.

5. Be a perpetual learner: If you aren’t growing, you are stagnating. Keep fresh by freshening your knowledge. The more you know, the better the potential to grow.

6. Practice integrity: Integrity is the cornerstone of your leadership cathedral. Notice I didn’t say just a house. You want an almost indestructible place to keep your integrity. It’s that important to create the trust only integrity can generate.

7. Walk the talk: People watch your actions, not what you say. Being incongruent here can be lethal to your leadership success. When you are consistent here, you gain respect and followed.

8. Be open to new ideas: Don’t discriminate sources of information. I’ve found hourly employees can come up with super ideas. Consider every source. When you keep your mind open, it offers you more opportunities to close your mouth.

9. Be a straight shooter: Employees need accurate performance reviews. Sugar coating your comments serves no useful purpose except to handicap an employee. Be courageous. Tell the truth in a professional manner but never lie.

10. Be accessible: Some leaders will say, “My door is always open.” In reality, they limit their accessibility. There are also limited opportunities to interchange dialog with employees. Accessibility has no real meaning here. You want to be aware that this practice can impact your personal productivity. Balance your time alone and with employees. It’s a winning combination.

11. Teach your employees to understand the bottom line: Too often, employees can’t relate their actions to profitability. Neglecting this will cause a negative impact profits. It’s hard to change what you don’t know. Businesses are not considered a benevolent societies. They need profit to remain open. When employees understand how their roll can help, they will step up to help.

12. Know how to solve problems—processes & people: All organizations have processes. Leaders study and understand them to do their jobs. It’s an important and necessary focus to also be able to address and resolve issues with people. Neglect one and failure is just around the corner.

13. Practice visionary thinking: Create possibilities. Without vision, the people perish. Without visionary thinking, the organization will perish. Use your thinking ability to review all sides of an issue and think your way to the correct solution.

14. Make people feel important: We all want to feel important. Witness the explosion of social media. It’s a way to get our 15 minutes of fame. But, at work we can make people feel important. We can acknowledge their contributions, help them grow and avoid any sign of discrimination.

15. Be consistent: A failure to be consistent is the first step toward becoming that failure. Predictability is important to employees. That can only happen when a leader is consistent. I don’t have to like you if I know how to deal with you. It’s erratic reactions that puzzle and stifle followship.

16. Be passionate: If you lack passion, you are missing one of the most enjoyable parts of being alive. Believe in your employees. Believe in your organization. Believe you have the passion to help both improve.

17. Improve the life of those you lead: Leaders have a responsibility to make improvements. Regression is not a support mechanism. Seek better and best surfaces. Support inertia and idleness surfaces.

18. Dare to be different: Following the crowd is what most do. But great leaders have no qualms about taking a new path. Different can be difficult but it can be another word for success. Don’t be afraid to step outside the path others are following. It just might be your best decision yet.

19. Live a balanced life: Spirituality, family and career are the three components comprising a balanced lifestyle. Yes, we can become skewed. But, by setting our priorities with God, family and work as the pecking order, we will seldom be out of balance.

20. Consider time your most important asset: I don’t care how rich you are. You don’t have enough money to buy another second of time. Time is the great equalizer. Time if life. Want to live the best life you can? Become disciplined how you use your time.

21. Become a servant leader: I saved this for last but it is a most important component of leadership. Leadership, for me, is synonymous with service. Leaders serve those they lead by developing their skills and growing their career opportunities. If you are not willing to serve, don’t take on the mantle of a leader. Period!

Billy Arcement offers strategic work sessions and conference keynotes to improve performance. His Cajun Candor offers solutions leaders need to grow people, raise productivity and increase profits. He is a 37 year member of the National Speakers Association. His next book, “Leading Yourself, Leading Others-Candid Conversations that Improve Performance” is scheduled for release in September. Visit his website, http://www.SearchingForSuccess.com to view his services or call 225-572-2804 to have a conversation.