“A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.” ~ Lao Tzu
What makes some people stand out of the ordinary crowd as awesome leaders?
Why do these people live wonderful lives, while the rest just drag themselves from day to day?
Great leaders shape history. Average people just get by. Greatness, however, is simply a set of different behaviors and habits. You too can become great if you adopt them. Here’s what outstanding leaders do differently and how you can start implementing these habits into your own life.
1. They have a vision for their future
Outstanding leaders are the captains of their own boat called life. They know that the boat is following their directions and they take on the responsibility for giving those directions. They are the ones shaping the future by having a clear vision and taking 100% responsibility for whatever happens to them..
A man without a vision is like a boat without a destination. It just sails adrift in the middle of the ocean, being at the mercy of tides and waves.
All great leaders have a vision and they pursue that vision with tremendous passion. They know exactly what they want, so they are able to get others to follow them towards their desired outcome.
“Where there is no vision, the people perish.” ~ Proverbs 29:18
2. They stay true to themselves above anything else
Outstanding leaders follow their own inner guidance whenever faced with a decision. They know what’s best for them and they will do whatever they think it’s right, even in the face of adversity.
They speak their truth and they act according to what they feel to be true, even with the risk of offending others. Outstanding leaders are authentic and congruent. That’s how they gain other people’s trust so easily. They aren’t afraid to expose themselves just as they are – with both strengths and weaknesses.
They admit they are human and can make mistakes. They cherish their imperfection and use it as an asset. Above all, they value their individuality and aren’t afraid to show it, even to those who disagree.
Outstanding leaders stay true to themselves, even if others demand compliance. They know they are the only person worth appeasing. They have a very strong inner validation system that guides them, so they don’t need the approval of others.
“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” ~ Jack Welch
3. They persevere in the face of obstacles
One of the most important traits of outstanding leaders is their ability to slide over setbacks and rejections. Many outstanding leaders have faced rejections before they managed to get their ideas through. Nonetheless, they persevered and succeeded.
What got them to success was their mindset. They viewed obstacles as challenges and growth opportunities, not as indicators to quit. Instead of stopping them, obstacles had the exact opposite effect: they made them even more determined to succeed and to prove they were right and others were wrong.
Great leaders don’t focus on problems and rejections. Instead, they focus on solutions and what they can learn and do better next time. They don’t take setbacks personally. They know that they are right – their internal validation system tells them that – and they do everything needed to convince the world of that fact.
4. They act with courage despite having fear
Outstanding leaders are admired for their courage. Many people who have displayed great courage have remained in history as heroes.
But what made these people different wasn’t their lack of fear. On the contrary. They felt fear just like any other human being. What set them apart was their ability to feel that fear and act despite having it.
Outstanding people have the same fears, doubts, inner conflicts and mixed emotions like everyone. But they have learned to follow their vision, no matter what they feel. They know they’re taking action for a bigger cause and that vision inspires them to keep going even in the face of fear.
It’s not that they ignore their fear. In fact, they acknowledge it – since they admit their weaknesses and are confortable with exposing vulnerability – but they do whatever is more important for them and they don’t allow fear to paralyze them to inaction. They use fear as a catalyst that propels them in the desired direction.
5. They anticipate obstacles and find solutions
Outstanding leaders have a plan. They don’t just jump into things unprepared. They carve out a path towards their goal. Furthermore, they attempt to predict what can go wrong on their path, so that they can be prepared for any situation.
But they don’t start thinking of all the things that can work out badly and find ways to counter them. It would consume too much energy and time. Besides, one can thing of a million reasons why things could go wrong. That’s not the purpose.
Outstanding leaders have learned to use their common sense and anticipate challenges. They do that by observing how things work and relate to another. They have a realistic view and avoid over- or underestimating their current circumstances. They don’t get too excited, nor do they become paranoid. They succeed in looking at circumstances, situations and people and seeing them just as they are.
Their ability to think clear and not be limited by beliefs allows them to accurately anticipate obstacles and find solutions in advance.
6. They spend time on things which matter most
Outstanding leaders are very efficient. And they have the exact same 24 hours per day like everyone else does. The difference is in their ability to manage time.
Outstanding leaders spend most time on those activities which matter to them and bring them greatest fulfillment. Since they have a vision with a plan, they know exactly what to do to make it a reality. So they invest energy in making things happen and in creating a meaningful life.
On the flipside, average people spend time in activities which distract their attention and don’t bring them any long-term gains. They just seek instant gratification and pleasure as much as possible.
Outstanding leaders will often sacrifice short-term pleasure for long term gain, because they know that’s where real happiness comes from. They have learned to delay their gratification,while keeping an eye on the vision and taking massive action which brings them closer to living their dreams.
“Management is about arranging and telling. Leadership is about nurturing and enhancing.” ~ Tom Peters
7. They are constantly improving
Outstanding leaders don’t settle for what they have. They seek to constantly expand themselves, they are continuously learning new skills and developing their abilities. Outstanding leaders are perpetual students and they never get tired of learning.
They also never stop dreaming and setting goals for themselves. They have a permanent vision of how their ideal life looks like and they are always updating this image, as soon as they get close to reaching it.
Outstanding leaders set very high standards for themselves. Whenever they’re close to reaching their goals, they set new ones, so they can keep moving further and further. They are expanding and growing and constantly seeking new challenges to face and new ways to push their comfort zone.
Unlike average people who settle for comfort, outstanding leaders embrace challenges, because they know these are the prerequisites for lasting growth and satisfaction.
“The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.” ~ Harvey Firestone
Take one step at a time and make these changes permanent in your life. What will you do starting today to become an outstanding leader? I really want to know what are your thoughts on this.