The 5 Qualities of Exceptional Leaders


How important is leadership and the type of leader you are, to the overall performance of your company?

Research from Winsborough, shows that CEOs account for between 15% and 30% of the variance in firm performance. Bad CEOs bring firms like HP, Enron, Merrill Lynch or the Royal Bank of Scotland to their knees and inflict misery and heartache on hundreds of thousands of employees. While good CEOs can inspire hope and create sustained performance lifts, take for example Rob Fyfe, former CEO at Air NZ.

The leaders of the organisation directly influence the motivation and inspiration of the team; this affects the discretionary effect of the team, their productivity, your customer service and loyalty, and your profitability. Good leadership is the critical multiplier for every business.

As your business grows, you will no longer be able to directly influence everything in the business and you have to learn to lead through others, and lead through systems and processes. The specialist skills that you leveraged as you got started and grew the business will no longer be the mainstay of the skills and knowledge you need.

You now need to be a generalist leader and trust other specialists in your business. The reality is you cant grow your business, only your people can – but you play the critical role in setting the example and framework for how others lead within your organisation.


1. Inspiration and motivation

The success of any business is largely dependent on how its top leader inspires and leads its leaders. For businesses to thrive, executive level leaders must know how to get the most from their senior managers, who in turn must drive performance throughout the organisation - whether you have 30 or 300 people. You’ll need to be able to inspire and motivate.

2. Lead other leaders

Great leaders know how to develop and lead other leaders. Great leaders understand that by developing and positioning their leaders, they help guarantee the success of the business. Successful leaders of other leaders change their mindset from growing followers to growing leaders.

3. Build strong relationships

Great leaders not only develop relationship-based influence skills but also focus on these as a priority for their role. If you have strong relationships with your team, and other key players internally in your company and externally in your industry, you’ll find that not only have you developed a strong sense of trust but also things get done much quicker and better.

4. Be a generalist

Where previously you might have been a specialist in your area of expertise, you are now acting as a generalist. Being able to lead a diverse team or multiple teams, know a little about everything and focus on being a great leader. Being a generalist is what’s needed if you’re a CEO or managing director of a company of different skill sets and departments; as most companies usually are.

5. Delegate shamelessly

Great leaders are skilled in the art of delegation of both tasks and decisions. This not only saves you time but also the pain of stressing about whether things get done or not within certain time frames.

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