Would Your Employees Describe You This Way?

People consistently cite 3 characteristics of exceptional leaders


Want to Motivate Your Employees?

4 Questions to Ask Yourself

This article has been adapted from Leaders Worth Following by Joshua Freedman, which you can read here.

The 3 characteristics of the best leaders

We’ve asked people all over the world to describe a leader who inspired them to go above and beyond – to be and do more than they thought possible. What do these exceptional leaders do?

Here are some of the most common answers:

  • “Listen deeply” 
  • “Give me time”
  • “Encourage me”
  • “Challenge me” –
  • “Give me feedback, critical and praise”
  • “Take risks on me”
  • “Give me a chance”
  • “Express their passion”
  • “Live their vision”

What’s critical, though, is that these behaviors alone are not enough. It’s the way in which these leaders take these actions that sets them apart. There’s a match between who they are, what they do, and the way they do it. There’s alignment. These leaders are often described by these 3 characteristics: authentic, confident and trustworthy.

Would your employees, or coworkers, describe you with those words?

EQ In Action

Take a look at the list above that starts with “Listens deeply.” Which 1 or 2 of these actions do you think your employees would say you do? What are 1 or 2 that you could do more often?

Then, let’s take a look at the 3 characteristics and consider steps you could take – today, this week, this month – to reach your full potential and really embody these attributes.

Authenticity – Many leaders still feel pressured to put on a mask of toughness and false bravado. To act like they have it all figured out. What would happen if you were more vulnerable? What if you admitted to your mistakes, or admitted that you are unsure about the best way to proceed? Authenticity fuels connection, which in turn fuels employee engagement and production.

Confidence – True confidence comes from knowing the why behind your actions. Can you articulate your why? What’s your bigger purpose, your noble goal? If you want to be an exceptional leader, finding and articulating your why should be at the top of your to do list – and this article takes you through a process for doing exactly that.

Trustworthiness – Building trust is both highly challenging and incredibly rewarding. To start the process of building trust, check out the 4Cs and and practice making them more visible.

If you want to really dive deep, I’d recommend the SEI Leadership Report or SEI 360 assessments. The 360 is a multi-rater feedback tool that gives you a clear sense of how you are coming across to other people. Contact us by clicking on Get EQ Solutions to learn more.

Michael Miller

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