Certain traits leaders demonstrate--honesty, confidence and creativity, for instance--should come as no shock. If you're looking to truly set yourself above the pack, though, you've got to go beyond these nearly-clichés. Start strong by fostering these three less-often-cultivated characteristics.
1. Demonstration of and connection to emotions
Business gurus often hail relationships as the holy grail of corporate success, the logic being that relationships connect leaders with essential support and resources. Relationships, however, are built on trust. To build that trust, the best business professionals wear their hearts on their sleeves. Rather than try to squash down their feelings, they readily admit them. They also try to read their employees' emotions so they can address whatever it is the workers need. This emotional transparency and prioritization makes the leader appear "real" and worth fighting for, even when rationality might point to a different direction.
Great business leaders know they can't do everything for the company on their own. Subsequently, they give away everything others need to complete their jobs and stay satisfied, providing more than adequate perks, such as vacation time and bonuses. Even when the company's financial situation won't allow these financial rewards, exceptional leaders give away information and power, allowing others to have their voice heard in the company. This tactic goes a long way in keeping morale high, getting workers to collaborate and feel confident in speaking honestly.
Business leaders are known for being clever in the sense that they often find unusual, innovative solutions to problems at hand. In fact, this type of visionary problem-solving can be viewed as the very heart of entrepreneurship. But cleverness also refers to their ability to work on the fly and provide rapid-fire answers. In completing these tasks, business leaders often have to manipulate both people and data according to their needs, all while maintaining their integrity, respecting those involved and accommodating current laws/regulations. If they do this well, balancing their cleverness with the wisdom they have, they gain appropriately deserved attention and can adapt according to whatever situations arise. Word choice, timing of meetings and even the color selected for office walls all are examples of how business leaders can exert influence with focused, positive purpose.
Change your behavior, change your business life
Although some leadership qualities are a matter of innate personality, many others can be learned. This includes attention to emotions, generosity and cleverness. Small behavioral changes, such as taking time for meditation, studying body language and even traveling can get you out of the box to the higher level of leadership you want.