What Makes A Leader Extraordinary?
I was meeting with a great group of business leaders recently, and the topic of extraordinary leadership came up. One of the Owners of a local business asked me, “So how should I focus my efforts if I want to become an extraordinary leader? What is it that distinguishes an extraordinary leader?” I have to admit that I’m not sure I have the consummate answer, but decided to tackle that challenge anyway. I’d be delighted if you would join the conversation, stir the pot, mix up the gumbo, whatever euphemism you prefer. Here is my take on what makes an extraordinary leader extraordinary.
Get The People Right: First and foremost, extraordinary leaders usually start with a team that is in some condition less than ideal. Job one then is to take the hand that you are dealt, and to improve it through intelligent decisions. By focusing on recruiting and attracting the right talent, hiring the right people for your culture, and getting them into roles where they can deliver their best work, you are getting off to a great start. Getting the people right is always critical to your success, and it’s a good place to start your journey to extraordinary.
Put Customers Front And Center: If your prospects do not have a great experience when working with your sales and customer service teams, your pipeline will not build and your revenue will not grow. Start by ensuring that as your team goes into the marketplace, they are well-prepared to deliver a stunningly positive experience to the prospects, so that they will want to become customers. Then quickly pivot to your existing customers. Make sure that your loyal customer base is not just taken care of, but absolutely treated like they are worth their weight in gold. Work with your sales leadership to set goals for maintaining relevant (value added, of course) contact with your customers to extend their value, and survey your customers regularly and intently listen to their feedback. Your firm MUST be easy to do business with, and your experience for customers must be one of Amazing Value! Don’t aim for satisfied customers, aim for fanatic supporters of your brand.
Bottom Line Results: Leaders are, of course, retained to deliver outstanding financial results for their shareholders, and this is a big component of demonstrating their extraordinary abilities as a leader. Extraordinary leaders pay close attention to Key Performance Indicators and Dashboard Reporting to hold their teams accountable for delivering expected results, and then some. Interestingly, their attention to detail in this area helps to sharpen the financial pencil, but the extraordinary leaders NEVER confuse their teams by opting for a “win at all costs” mentality. The extraordinary leader will only settle for winning, but winning fairly and ethically, and they talk about that with their teams often enough so that the team knows to adopt a higher expectation. Research demonstrates that the most ethical leaders almost always deliver nearly double what ordinary rivals accomplish for profit results.
Fuel The Engagement Fire: Truly gifted leaders motivate their teams with more than Knute Rockne speeches and pep talks, they build a culture that lights a fire under their teams and draws them into a high level of engagement that approaches family loyalty. By ensuring that values and expectation are aligned, and the atmosphere of the day to day work environment is built on respect and professionalism, extraordinary leaders set their teams up for success, repeatable, sustainable success. They encourage growth mindsets and ensure their teams have meaningful work that challenges them so that the teams will have a reason to stick around and earn the rewards that come with consistent market leadership. This is an area where extraordinary leaders really shine and excel. They create environments where their teams can do their very best work, and have fun while they’re doing so, and create a perpetual success machine that delivers extraordinary value for customers, colleagues, and shareholders. That success and excitement are attractive and lead to customer and employee retention.
Teaching Teamwork: It used to be that teamwork was a thing so foreign that companies hired outside consultants to deliver a half-day or one-day workshop. These days collaboration is expected and a core tenet of how work gets done. Accordingly, leaders must become great teachers of teamwork skills, and must set expectations that one of the ways you become successful within your company is to demonstrate great teamwork and collaboration. Great leaders possess high levels of emotional intelligence and invest in helping their management teams and work teams to develop higher levels of emotional intelligence to guarantee their abilities to perform at higher than normal levels. Teamwork and collaboration don’t occur naturally in all people and in all environments, and an extraordinary leader recognizes the imperative to focus on, reward and build greater teams and collaborative work environments.
Support, Encourage, Challenge: A gifted leader knows that a one-dimensional approach to inspiring and leading people will never work as well as using all of the clubs in the golf bag. No surprise then, that extraordinary leaders sense just when a frustrated team needs some support to help them continue working toward the breakthrough, encouraging them to continue the struggle because “I can feel how close you are to solving this problem!” Of course, sometimes leadership requires tremendous courage because things don’t always go as well as we would like, and an extraordinary leader will have to be able to recognize when challenging an underperforming team or individual needs to be challenged, or disciplined. Conflicts will need to be addressed, and common ground will need to be established, and extraordinary leaders know instinctively how to lead in those circumstances.
What about you? What do you think a leader should focus on if they want to become an extraordinary leader? How does one distinguish themselves as extraordinary, in your view? PLEASE join us in a discussion of what great leadership requires, if you would! We’d love to hear from you! In fact, we’d like to hear your views so much that we’ll send our 25 Best Practices on Leadership, Communications, and Motivation to anyone who adds a comment to this article. Just leave your comment on LinkedIn or on our website, www.michaelbeachcoach.com and send an email to email@example.com, and we’ll send you, free of charge, 75 Best Practices!
Michael Beach is a leadership thought leader and a Business Advisor who works closely with C-Level Executives and their Leadership Teams to build culture, create winning teams, and develop leadership excellence. Michael has developed an award winning coaching program that ensures that your Emerging Leaders will become successful when they are promoted to management and leadership positions, combining the power of coaching with a great education and action learning techniques. For more information on Michael’s Emerging Leaders coaching program, send your inquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org.