Top Ten Qualities of Exceptional Leaders

standing out

Fitting in is the formula for mediocrity. Average is safe, boring, and deadly.

I’ve been rubbing elbows with outstanding leaders from organizations on the Great Place to Work list of exceptional companies. Excellence electrifies the air at their annual conference.

Outstanding leaders live by bold principles.

Exceptional leaders courageously declare themselves.

I’m hearing things like:

  • Values driven employees solve problems without direction from management.
  • Take better care of your employees than anyone else.
  • Love builds better companies than fear.
  • One great person is more productive than three good people.
  • Let people pick their own colleagues. We love group interviews. (In regard to the hiring process)
  • We interview prospective employees six or seven times. Many quit before the process is done.
  • We have 7,000 employees and don’t have an HR department.
  • The stronger the culture the more open you can become.
  • Anonymity breeds irresponsibility. (On giving anonymous feedback)
  • CEO’s drive organizational culture. (More so in smaller organizations)

Exceptional leaders:

  1. Courageously declare themselves.
  2. Embrace bold principles.
  3. Live authentically.
  4. Pursue exceptional.
  5. Expect others to rise to challenges.
  6. Practice rigorous accountability.
  7. Don’t make exceptions for themselves.
  8. Believe in uncomfortable transparency.
  9. Love their organizations.
  10. Put people first.

An observation:

Some organizations reward fitting in and punish standing out. Exceptional leaders, on the other hand, make fitting in dangerous.

You can’t fit in if you plan to stand out.

Follow Great Place to Work on Twitter: @GPTW_US (Highly recommended)

List: 100 Best Companies to Work For

What qualities do you see in exceptional leaders?

What bold principles guide your leadership?