Leadership Insights


7 Practices of Exceptional Leaders

Everyone wants to know the secret.  The one thing that will make all the difference. The one thing that separates those that appear to have it together from those who struggle to keep it together.  As part of my work, I get to hear the stories of what’s working for the leaders I coach and what seems to stand in the way.  Over these past five years of coaching some of the most dynamic and influential leaders in their organizations, I’ve collected a few secrets that I’m trying my best to integrate into my own daily practice: 

  1. The Morning Matters.  Exceptional leaders create and follow a disciplined, regimented morning practice.  They are committed to movement, meditation, writing, devotionals or silence each morning to set the tone, focus and intention for their day. Be intentional about centering yourself at the beginning of your day. 
  • Reflect – often!  In looking back to learn and looking forward to succeed, exceptional leaders take time to access what worked, what didn’t work and how they want to make better decisions.  Give yourself permission to pause and get out of your own way to see your work more objectively. 
  • Always be Learning. These exceptional men and women are constantly filling their brain with fuel for creativity and greater understanding through books, podcasts, coffee meetings and master mind groups.  Park the ego — be a student of the business and don’t be afraid to ask questions to generate the dialogue vs. always being the expert. 
  • Ask for Help. They know they’re not the expert at everything – they ask for help.  They know where to focus and what is uniquely theirs to do and ask for help in everything else.  They see asking for help as being collaborative vs. being weak – not being “able to do it all”.  There is a lot to learn around this practice and it’s so freeing once we tap into the genius of others.  
  • Be Curious. They are self-aware and are curious about improving every day.  In being more open to their blind spots, they are willing to receive feedback that will improve their effectiveness.  Instead of resisting feedback, be willing ask for it and strive to have your intentions match the experience that you want others have with you. 
  • Be on-purpose.  They aren’t exceptional by accident. They know where to focus their time and use their time wisely – usually focusing only on three key tasks/day.  It’s not about quantity, it’s about quality work. 
  • Communicate with Clarity – They prepare for meetings and are on-purpose in how they communicate the vision, be inspirational, affirming and validate the direction for their teams.  If it’s not clear to your audience – it’s not clear.  Strive for clarity that serves as a guidepost for all future decisions. 

While mastering all 7 secrets will not happen overnight, we can begin integrating with just one of these practices each quarter to explore where we need to strengthen how we lead.  As we always remind the leaders in our Leadership Development programs – it’s not about doing more as a leader, it’s about being more. And, that only happens when we become more centered, intentional and realize the responsibility and influence we have as a leader.