Leaders, those that really stand out, have learned to develop some very specific qualities. Take Sir Richard Branson for example, the self-proclaimed rule-breaker owns one of the world’s most recognized brands and has authored several books on important leadership principles. Instead of relying on traditional business strategies, he suggests that leaders should focus more on listening, learning, and even laughing on a regular basis. Let’s take a closer look at some of the top leadership qualities that it takes to set yourself apart.

  • Full transparency, trust, and accountability for your actions. Accountability is an important leadership because it builds trust, improves performance, promotes ownership, and inspires confidence. You can develop it further by thinking forward, setting transparent goals, asking for help, and providing constructive feedback.
  • Vision. Leadership involves looking beyond today. You need to have a vision of where you and your team will be in the future and passionately share it with them so everybody is contributing to the forward momentum of your organization.
  • Optimism. Leaders must be able to inspire and motivate others, but optimists make better leaders for a variety of reasons. You can transform into an optimistic leader by focusing on solutions, using mistakes as learning opportunities, and valuing collaboration.
  • Adaptability. Agile leaders can change leadership styles based on the people being led as well as the situation. Being able to respond, to switch approaches and to try new things are all essentials of adaptability. In other words, don’t hesitate to break away from that “business as usual” strategy in order to get outside of your comfort zone and grow.
  • Good communication, confidence, and decisiveness. Richard Branson deems communication, especially listening, as one of the most important skills for anybody to have because it enables you to learn from both employees and customers. Instead of telling employees that they are always wrong, a better approach would be asking them for specific feedback and actually listen to it. There’s also a definitive connection between self-confidence and decisiveness. Exceptional leaders are confident enough to not only make safe decisions, but also take risks along the way.

These are just a few of the most underrated soft skills that separate average leaders from those that take their organizations to the top level.


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