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Two Fundamental Traits of Leaders Who Stand Out

Many people aspire to becoming better leaders in their work, their community and in their own lives. No matter where you stand in terms of your leadership abilities there is room for all of us to keep growing.

Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.

– John Fitzgerald Kennedy

This article focuses in on two of the most essential traits of successful leaders, and has been written to help you think about where you stand in these important areas.

First I would like you to think about someone that stands out in your mind as a leader.

Once you identify that person, then make a list of traits about that person.

Having done this very short exercise with hundreds of people, there are a myriad of traits that you might share, but in almost every case you would likely say that your leader:

  1. Had a clear picture of what they were trying to accomplish, and
  2. Was an excellent communicator

Leaders who stand out know where they are headed and have the ability to engage others in their mission.

The very essence of leadership is that you have to have vision. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.
Theodore M. Hesburg, President of the University of Notre Dame

There are many people who have big ideas, but they don’t have great people skills. And there are also many people who are great communicators, but don’t have much of a vision or plan. It is not likely that either of these types of people is regarded as a leader. To lead requires not only the ability to devise a carefully crafted strategic plan, but the ability to build trust and enlist the support of others.

You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can’t get them across, your ideas won’t get you anywhere
Lee Iacocca

No matter where in your life you are trying to stand out as a leader, the difference between success and failure may come down to whether you have a plan AND you have the skills to communicate to those involved in the plan.

Communication requires a lot more than crafting a message and sending it. Successful leaders know that without a receptive audience even the best plans have no chance. Great communicators understand that how they convey and connect with others plays a big part in their ability to implement. Leaders who stand out in sales, customer service or in effecting change in a business operation have a mission and understand their audience.

Good communication requires a two way conversation. The way in which ideas, plans and goals are transferred can make or break success as a leader. An effective communicator will engage, respect and empower others.

To launch and successfully implement any business strategy requires ongoing communication with diverse audiences. Test out your communication effectiveness..

Ask the market- how are we known?
Ask your employees- what are our top 3 goals?
Ask your prospects- what benefit do you see in working with us?
Ask your clients- what value are we providing to you?

Check to see if the answers to these questions match your intent. If there is a disconnect- that is your opportunity!

I often hear leaders saying things like, “I have told them a dozen times and they just don’t seem to hear, see or get it.” If that sounds like you, it is likely that your audience has not been able to connect their personal goals, issues, and needs to what you want to accomplish. Is there some way you can help them make that connection? Until they see how what you have to say is important or can benefit them, they are probably only half listening.

To improve your effectiveness as a leader

  • Sharpen your strategic plan (read more about strategic planning)
  • Work on your communication so that you get your message across in a way that will be heard!

With vision, a game plan, connection and effective communication you will stand out as a leader.

The very essence of leadership is that you have to have a vision. It’s got to be a vision you articulate clearly and forcefully on every occasion.
Theodore Hesburgh

Written by Helene Mazur

Helene is the founder of Princeton Performance Dynamics, an executive coaching and strategic planning facilitation company for business and non-profit leaders and their teams. Helene’s passion is helping her clients to focus their goals, see new perspectives on their current situation, put in place realistic, motivating plans, and execute to achieve new levels of success.

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