As we head into a new future of work, we are a faced with a crisis in leadership. What are the best practices as a leader? In such a fluid working world and a breakdown in hierarchy, who actually are the leaders? How can leaders best prepare to guide their companies to a new level of greatness?

In my work as a performance strategist, I’ve had the honor of working with and interviewing some of the nation’s most forward-thinking CEOs, executives and managers. They are dedicated to stepping full-force into their roles as leaders. I’ve seen first-hand what distinguishes these amazing people from their peers.

Here are 7 steps to go from being an ordinary to extraordinary leader:

1. Serve your team (and they will serve you). Extraordinary leaders know that when they take care of their team and put their people first, everything else will fall into place. When you commit to a work culture in which you take care of the needs of your employees, innovation will flourish, your employees will be more loyal to you, and the company and customers benefit as a result.

2. Stop telling your team how to act. Show them through your own behavior. It seems very simple, but many leaders still don’t get it: you absolutely must lead by example. Think about your values and the standards to which you hold your team. Do you live up to these principles? How can you exemplify your values and overall mission in your daily actions? No one likes to be told what to do–they are truly inspired when they see admirable behavior and desire to follow suit.

3. Don’t try to increase your own power. Boost the autonomy of others. Extraordinary leaders know that it is never about being the star of their own one-man or one-woman show. Power and influence are two different things, and you’ll be a more influential leader when you demonstrate that you truly put the team, the project, and innovation above your own personal advancement. Think about ways to limit your power and encourage others to step up to the mic, make big decisions, and take initiative.

4. Be more curious, ask more questions. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but in your case, it will no doubt help you become a better leader. There are many benefits of curiosity, including increased mental agility, a more positive working environment, and a better understanding of how to motivate your team.

5. Always be thinking about your team structure and how to optimize it. This involves knowing the individual aspirations and career paths of your team members. Be hyper-aware of the strengths and experiences everyone brings to the team, and don’t be shy about shaking things up.

6. Know how to inspire and engage yourself in your work. You may be a leader in your company, but that doesn’t mean you are infallible. You have your own strengths and weaknesses, and there will be moments when you feel off your game and not inspired. Extraordinary leaders know how to confront these ruts head-on. Begin by pinpointing your own Zone of Genius and focus on operating in this state as much as possible. Next, learn your triggers for inspiration and make them happen. You are responsible for your own self-engagement.

7. Be aware of your unconscious biases and welcome diversity. Ordinary leaders may not be aware of their unconscious biases. Extraordinary leaders, on the other hand, make the effort to be aware and are open to ideas that may be different from what they think. They know that diversity of thought is an important component of innovation and they welcome it.

Published on: Aug 26, 2015