They are authentic, consistent, open, and honest.  They are who they say they are.  They model and message the values they advocate.  They understand that leadership is by example (Abrashoff, 2002).

They take the blame, allow and want others to make decisions, and give the credit away (Abrashoff, 2002).

Leaders are learners.  They consume a lot of information from both formal and informal sources.  They are disciplined and systematic thinkers.  They apply logic to evidence.  They remain objective wanting to hear all competing arguments.  They make decisions with data not irrational thinking.  They lead with the organization’s values.  They listen and voice their opinion last (Sinek).

They create and sustain the right culture at work.  They are the champion for that culture.  They model and message it all the time.

They have diverse experience.  They have worked and learned from a number of leaders in different organizations.

The top tier of leaders have never had it easy.  They have had to fix and turn things around as opposed to being handed an organization with few or no issues.

They are top talent scouts.  They know they are the lead recruiter for the organization.  They love to hire people who know more than they do and can do things they cannot.

They excel at coaching.  They know that people development is their most important responsibility.  They are proficient at identifying strengths in others and encouraging them to retain them.  Knowing we can all grow and improve, they identify opportunities for members of the team to enhance their performance.

They supply them with the tools and resources to secure gains in greater knowledge and sharper skills.  They are invested in the success of those they lead.  They even help them design career paths which help them achieve their goals (Abrashoff, 2002).

These leaders get out of the office.  They know they can learn and motivate by seeing the operation for themselves (Abrashoff, 2002).

They free others to succeed.  They understand that you have to give up control to get performance.  They want the members of their team to think and act like owners.  They want others thinking for themselves and making decisions.  They want to hear as many ideas as they can from their team (Abrashoff, 2002).

They know that mistakes are normal, natural, and predictable.  They want those they lead to learn, fail forward, and fail up.

These leaders are loyal to their team.  They take good care of those who work for them (Welch, 2015).

They are wonderful mentors who like to give away everything they know (Maxwell, 1998).

They don’t fall into problem thinking and bad behaviors like self-pity, anger, blaming, grudges, or ego.  They are human but know these emotions and that conduct only hurts the mission and the team.

It’s all about the mission and team for exceptional leaders.  It’s never about them.  They underrate themselves yet they are the leaders for whom everyone wants to work.

Featured Image: The Replacements