Truly Exceptional Leaders

As happens with many in leadership I was promoted into my first leadership role in the relatively early years of my career.  Like many first-time managers, I went from being a friend of my peers to being their manager.  And like many first-time managers, I was not properly trained, developed, or supported in this transition.

Since then, I’ve learned a lot about what an exceptional leader is, and what a manager is, mainly by watching others’ examples and trying things on myself to learn what worked, what didn’t, and what made the biggest and most significant impact.

Strong leadership must happen in the day-to-day interactions to support and lead a team, especially in the conversations you’re having. 

Here are a few phrases you can use to naturally empower your team and become the kind of leader you aspire to be. 

  1. “I have complete confidence in you.” Instead of micromanaging and worrying about every step of executing a project or strategy, exceptional leaders trust their team to take the strategy and run with it.  The act of communicating that trust boosts their team’s morale.
  2. “This was great work.” Exceptional leaders take the time often to compliment and acknowledge a job well done.  They don’t wait for the next performance review, recognizing that instant feedback reinforces good behaviors, builds camaraderie, and boosts the teammate’s confidence.
  3. “Let’s play to your strengths; how would you like to proceed forward with this project?” Although many employees know what they’re good at, exceptional leaders take time to communicate and advise on the strengths they see in each of their teammates, as well as how these strengths tie into the overall vision and success of the team, department, and organization.  These leaders also provide a safe and open environment for feedback from these employees to drive greater personal and team success.
  4. “What questions do you have?” Exceptional leaders don’t just accept feedback and questions, they encourage it.  Rather than putting the burden on their direct reports to come forward with uncertainties, they make asking questions the norm in everyday conversations.
  5. “What can I do better next time to support you?” Exceptional leaders continuously ask for feedback because they know that the better they are at supporting and leading the team while removing barriers, the better the team will perform, and the happier and more engaged their team will be.
  6. “What do you think?” Exceptional leaders know that different perspectives are necessary for strong decision-making and provide space for their direct reports to use their voices rather than waiting for them to speak up.
  7. “This is what we’re accomplishing here.” Communicating the “why” engages, empowers, and encourages great teamwork.  Exceptional leaders continuously tie daily tasks and projects to the team’s departmental goals and keep the team updated on the overall progress toward the organizational strategy.

Respect, empathy, and the ability to care about the whole, not just the “parts” or “their part”, helps everyone on the team understand and embrace their roles toward the greater good.  Exceptional leaders reflect these traits and are unafraid to roll up their sleeves to get involved; servant leadership is an action that goes above and beyond mere words.

Are you the exceptional leader you want to be?  Are you providing the verbal encouragement needed to help your team succeed?  If you’d like to explore opportunities to strengthen your leadership skills, let’s chat.


P.S.  Book a Complimentary Strategy Session so we can get you moving in the right direction; click on my Complimentary Strategy Session calendar link here and let’s book a time together so you can get started today!

P.P.S.  With over three decades of professional experience in corporate operations and executive human resources, I am a proven results-driven leader.  My expertise includes strategy, change management, talent management and organizational development, employee relations, and executive and leadership coaching.  I am a highly effective communicator and team leader with proven ability to build long-term relationships across internal and external customer environments built with integrity, confidence, authenticity, and trust.