4 Traits of Exceptional Leaders

By Rick Houcek

If there’s one leadership question that I get asked more than any, it’s probably this: “Rick, what’s the one thing I could do to be a better leader?”

Frankly, it’s a foolhardy question, because it assumes there IS only one thing you can do. The fact is, there are dozens – maybe hundreds of things you can do to be a better leader. I want to share with you just 4 – we’ll keep it short.

  1. Let go of popularity. Make the right decision that needs to be made, even if it’s unpopular. Listen, if you’re in the leadership game to be popular, that’s a losing proposition. You will always upset somebody with every decision you make. So, let go of popularity.
  2. Break the rules. One of the things that gets leaders ahead is that they are notorious rule breakers. Now, I don’t mean break laws or violate the values of your company – I just mean think outside the box. Do things very differently than others, and if there’s established rules – break them. Try new ways.
  3. This is a big one, many industries have what is called industry norms. The way we do business in our category of business. Well, exceptional leaders identify those norms and then ignore them. They do something different.

    Here’s an example. I’m a consultant and a coach. I hear coaches say all the time, “It’s impossible to get paid in advance. You have to perform the service first, then send a bill, and then get paid.”

    Well, guess what? That’s an industry norm that most play by. I don’t.

    My rule is, you pay me in advance because I’m going to block the time and book it for you, and I’m going to protect it and not give it to anybody else. I can’t afford to have it cancelled at the last minute when it’s too late for me to resell it.

    So the tradeoff is, I’ll block that time and protect it for you and promise that you’ll get it, and promise I’ll show up. And in exchange, you pay me in advance to show your commitment. Every one of my clients pays me in advance. So, that’s an industry norm I break – and I break a lot of them.

  4. Always do the opposite, or at least take a look at it. Most people follow down a traditional path.

    One of the questions brilliant leaders always ask is, “What if we do the opposite? What if we did blue instead of red? What if we did it in daytime instead of night? What if we did it long instead of short?” Whatever the opposite is, start there. That helps you think outside the box. That’s how geniuses think.

Commit to those 4 traits and I know you’ll enjoy success.

The article may be over, but don’t leave yet!

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