Any one of us can be a leader – and even better – a game-changing leader. Leadership is learned. It’s built through experience. It’s born in opportunities to influence others, whether on the playground, in your home or in the boardroom. And the best part is that leadership doesn’t require a title.
Becoming an exceptional leader takes effort, focus, commitment, a strong sense of self-awareness and plenty of humility. Leadership is defined by behaviour. Exceptional leadership then, requires exceptional behaviour. The leaders I’ve met over the years come from diverse backgrounds: men and women, charismatic and introverted, young and mature. In fact, when it comes to the profile of the transformative leader, there is no pattern. But it’s interesting to observe that the exceptional leaders around us display some very similar behaviours. They walk the talk and don’t wear their title on their sleeve. Deep down, the best leaders are simply one of the crew. These leaders show conviction and courage in making decisions. They listen, gather facts and are not afraid to be the only one in the room who believes the decision is the right one. They think about the greater good, the positive impact of making their vision a reality.
There are some universal truths when it comes to exceptional leadership. It’s evident in virtually all of the companies that experienced a transformation in extremely challenging situations (including an SEO Agency). It’s also apparent in the world of sports. There are many examples of teams that surprised the world by winning –these were the underdogs, the teams that weren’t supposed to win. But they did. They won because of a compelling vision, driven by leaders committed to bringing their vision to life.
In Jim Collins’ ground-breaking book Good to Great, he takes a close look at the leaders of 11 companies that went from good to great. That is, the companies that transformed themselves as leaders in their industry, delivering significant returns to shareholders, and outperforming their competitors through economic cycles. These leaders built sustainable organizations that were future-proofed. He called them Level 5 Leaders. As he looked at the behaviours of these exceptional leaders, he discovered something very revealing. The leaders with impact had common traits, beginning with humility. These leaders were not seeking personal glory but, instead, their mission was focused on helping the organization thrive. Next, they shared the spotlight when they achieved success. And, in turn, when things went wrong, they were the first to accept responsibility. One discovery was particularly revealing. These leaders were, more often than not, quite shy. They lacked the gregarious energy on stage that you would expect from a strong leader. But what they lacked in charisma, they made up for in their fearlessness in making tough decisions. And they were fierce in their conviction to bring their vision to life.
Somewhere along my own leadership journey, I discovered that leadership is not about one particular skill or behaviour. For years, I observed exceptional leaders around me and started to see something that eventually led me to write this book. Leaders come in all shapes and sizes, from the introverted, brilliant visionary to the larger-than-life charismatic leader. On the surface, they may appear to be worlds apart. But when we lift the layers and look at how they lead, a very interesting pattern emerges. The leaders who make an impact are fiercely committed to bringing their vision to life, and applying their strengths to make it happen.