If you envision yourself in a leadership role sometime in the future or currently find yourself managing people, there are certain unmistakable signs of exceptional leadership that stand out.

The problem I see is that these hallmarks of human leadership that define progressive and profitable companies aren't exactly taught in business schools or modeled in corporate society. That leaves many with false ideas, perceptions, and assumptions attached to centuries-old management philosophies that no longer work.

If you're thinking bravado, swagger, charisma, "executive presence" and positional authority is the way to go, I'm about to disappoint you. Those things don't sustain influence over people. After a while, people under your care will catch on to your act and see the outward brash as only skin deep. 

You have to go deeper than that, way deeper. You have to be wiling to lead from an authentic place where your heart connects to the hearts of others in a way that manifest both great relationships and results.

What are we talking about here? What type of leaders and managers do employees enthusiastically follow? Let's take a look at six key traits.

1. Leaders who are not afraid to be wrong.

Unforgettable leaders take a stand not because they think they're always right and use that to push their weight around, but because they aren't afraid of being wrong! Contrary to the self-absorbed boss who proclaims his position and disregards differing opinions or points of view, unforgettable leaders with loyal followers are secure enough to back down graciously when being proven wrong. To them, it's more important to find out what is right than being right.

2. Leaders who listen more than they speak.

Want to hear an insecure leader at work? Easy, just listen to their bragging--a mask for their insecurity. Confident leaders are unassuming and know what they think; they want to know what you think. They ask curious questions--how something is done, what you like about it, what you need in order to be better, more productive. Sure, they may know a lot of stuff, but they seek to know even more from their tribe by listening to their ideas, suggestions, and perspectives on things.

3. Leaders who shine the spotlight on others.

Want the fast track to unforgettable leadership? Stop seeking the glory and validate your followers instead. You do that by shining the spotlight on others and celebrating their accomplishments, which helps boost their confidence and their trust in you.

4. Leaders who seek advice.

Unforgettable leaders with a loyal following seek advice or input from their trusted inner circle, which may even include a few valued employees that report to them! They surround themselves with a select few mentors and advisors they can lean on for guidance and direction in life and business. 

5. Leaders who give their employees ownership.

Unforgettable leaders invest in close relationships, build trust over time, and let their team members feel like they're invested in the business. They give them ownership and engage their workforce in an entrepreneurial way. When people take ownership of their work--like they're business partners--employee satisfaction soars. They become loyal followers.

6. Leaders who recognize others for their contributions.

An unforgettable human leader never flies solo or plays for the name on the back of her jersey. She will always acknowledge successes as a team effort and will make it a priority to recognize people for their hard work, both in public and private. An employee that sees this leader in action not seeking self-glory, but building up others, will typically be more willing to follow that leader. That makes her unforgettable.

Published on: Oct 12, 2018