What Makes an Exceptional Leader

We’ve all known great leaders in our lives. In some cases, we admire a leader from afar — great political, religious or cultural figures whose words and actions impact our beliefs and values. In other cases, we are fortunate enough to have a personal connection to someone we admire and respect; it may be a relative, a friend, a colleague or a manager.

But what makes someone an effective, inspiring and well-respected leader? And what do you need to do to become an effective leader?

We’ve compiled a list of the top five qualities of exceptional leaders.

  1. Lead by Example. Leaders show, rather than tell. Leaders have the opportunity to be an influencer and that starts with modelling the behaviour they wish to see. Exceptional leaders are remembered not necessarily for what they say but for what they do. If, for example, you want your employees to be punctual, then you yourself must be on time, every day.
  2. Manage Emotions. It can be difficult to keep emotions separate from matters of business but it’s important to do so. The state you’re in is what elicits a response from others, not the words. If, for example, you’re angry, the other person will immediately become defensive, which lessens your ability to have a constructive conversation.
  3. Learn from the past. The most successful people in the world make mistakes. They pick themselves up, learn from their mistakes and move on. Mistakes are not wrong or a sign of failure; they are a sign of growth. All leaders make mistakes; the exceptional ones don’t dwell on what they did wrong, they reflect on what they can do to be successful the next time.
  4. Continue learning. Great leaders are constantly learning and trying to improve themselves. Keep your mind open to both personal and professional development opportunities that will help you grow.
  5. Find a mentor. The best leaders know when they need help and guidance. Nobody knows everything. Find someone to learn from; someone whom you believe already has the qualities or skills you seek and model your behaviour/abilities after them. Maybe it’s a leader in your field, a mentor who represents the qualities of a good leader or someone at ACCES who can guide you.

Finally, remember that every exceptional leader is also an exceptional listener. A leader knows how to provide direction and guidance but also knows the importance of listening to others.

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