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Cultivating an exceptional leader
13 of the best leadership qualities for any industry
Extraordinary leaders all have a mission to serve. Whether it’s serving others or serving a greater good, they know how to influence themselves and others to get behind a big idea that changes the world. While it’s true that influence is the core of leadership, truly remarkable leaders are ones who possess specific leadership qualities that they have developed within themselves. After all, great leaders are made – not born.
To become an extraordinary leader, harness the power of these top leadership qualities shared by all great leaders:
- Extraordinary Hunger
If you want a core characteristic of leaders with real impact, it’s one word: hunger. They have an insatiable drive to be, do, share, create, and serve more. Many great leaders get their hunger from filling a hole in their own life, ultimately fueling the greatest hunger of all: to serve something much greater than oneself.
- Compelling Vision
A great leader communicates a clear and compelling vision, uniting people around it. The vision captures hearts, minds, and energies in service of something that goes far beyond themselves. President Kennedy did this in his famous moon speech, challenging the nation to do the impossible “not because it’s easy, but because it’s hard.”
- Effective and Influential Communication
There’s a passion and energy to leadership. But to communicate effectively, you must have the leadership quality of knowing what people think, want, fear, and desire most. In other words, to influence another person, you must know what is already influencing them.
- Brilliant Strategist
Exceptional leaders are strategic thinkers. They find the right strategies and map out the path from where they are to where they want to be. Maybe they lack a strategy in one area, but they learn to recognize or partner with those who have the best strategies, empowering them to make their vision real.
- Authentic and Congruent
Real leaders lead by example. They walk their talk, creating credibility that others respect and follow.
- Absolute Certainty
Extraordinary leaders bring certainty to uncertain environments, by first creating certainty within themselves. This absolute conviction extends to their compelling vision, forming a core belief that they can make their vision real.
- Committed Yet Flexible
The best leaders succeed in life because they are both persistent and flexible. The key is staying committed to the outcome but flexible in the approach. If one strategy fails, they change their approach until they find one that succeeds.
- Courage and Faith
Both fear and faith are an imagination of the future. The difference? Fear is just imagination undirected. Faith, on the other hand, is imagination directed for the greater good. Faith produces courage because courage is when you’re afraid but you have faith to take action anyway.
- Ability to Connect and Break Patterns
When progress halts, the ability to break patterns is crucial. Tony Robbins once interviewed Mikhail Gorbachev about the moment the Cold War ended. Gorbachev said it was during a heated exchange with President Reagan – they were stuck in a pattern of demonizing each other. Then at one point, Reagan stood up, walked away, paused, and came back with a big smile. He said, “Hi, my name’s Ron! Can I call you Mikhail?” Breaking their pattern, Gorbachev laughed, enabling them to connect and make progress on ending the war.
- Unreasonable Expectations and Standards
A strong leader has higher expectations for themselves than anyone could reasonably expect. Ultimately, we all get what we tolerate, and great leaders tolerate unreasonable expectations. This fuels their path to success, while inspiring others to also raise their standards. Combined with a vision that serves, unreasonable expectations change the world.
This leadership quality is clear in Gandhi’s story of a mother who traveled far for his advice to make her son quit sugar. Frustrating her, Gandhi told her to return in three weeks. When she did, Gandhi told her son, “Don’t eat sugar.”
Confused, she asked Gandhi why he didn’t help earlier. He replied, “Because three weeks ago, I was eating sugar.”
THE PATH TO LEADERSHIP MASTERY
The path to effective leadership is forged through growth and contribution. As Tony Robbins emphasizes, people aren’t born with great leadership skills. They’re learned.
By nurturing these leadership qualities within yourself, you unleash an unstoppable force for good. The hunger that fuels your purpose, the vision that ignites your potential, and the certainty that guides your actions — these are all building blocks of remarkable leadership qualities.