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8 Things That Separate Outstanding Performers From Average People

8 Things That Separate Outstanding Performers From Average People

There are achievers, and then there are super achievers. These are the people who make stuff happen. They seem unstoppable. That’s not because they’ve never failed; it’s because they don’t let failure become the endpoint. Ready to see your own performance move from mediocre to outstanding? Here’s what to do.

1. You must achieve a level of competence.

Don’t stop because you can’t. Just keep learning until you can. The hours of study, research, practice, and just trying you put in will raise your ability inch by inch. And that’s what you have to do if you want to be a high performer. You don’t let the gap between where you are and where you want to be stop you. You simply consider how to cross the gap, and then do what it takes until you get there.

Consider this insight from Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic:

As the legendary Paul Arden (ex creative director at Saatchi & Saatchi) noted: “I want means: if I want it enough I will get it. Getting what you want means making the decisions you need to make to get what you want.”. If you really want what you say you want, then, your low confidence will only make you work harder to achieve it — because it will indicate a discrepancy between your desired goal and your current state.

2. You must set goals worth fighting for.

Kriss Carr was only 32 when she was diagnosed with what doctors called an incurable cancer. Rather than accepting this diagnosis, she turned her life around and 10 years later is “thriving with cancer.” Oh, and she’s also running a popular wellness website, is the author of books and documentaries, and is a renowned healthy living expert.

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When it matters, you can push yourself to do it. When you look at your goals and think, “Meh, I don’t really care,” you’re not going to fight your way out of a slump. Why would you? So drop the stuff that doesn’t matter to you and set goals that you truly can’t live without.

3. You must treat others with respect.

There’s no power in disrespecting the people around you. High performers know that showing respect not only opens doors, it also enables you to interact in a way gives you the most focus and clarity in every interaction. As Randy Garutti, CEO of Shake Shack, says,

It’s about being present. You can’t be everywhere for everyone, every time. But if there’s one thing I work tirelessly to do, it’s being present when I am there. There’s nothing worse than a leader who gives you their time but not their focus. (Just like there’s nothing worse than reading a story to my kids at bedtime and having my mind drift off to all the other things I have going on.) Being present is something I focus on every day.

4. You must put in the time.

If you want to reach those life-changing goals, you have to put in the hours. There’s no shortcut here. There’s not happy little spaceship that will whisk you away if you just want it bad enough. If you put in average effort, you’ll get average results.

No, you’re going to have to get there one day at a time by working hard and, well, working long. Various research shows that high performers are people who put in long hours: 60-hour workweeks are commonplace among the successful.

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If you want to be outstanding, you must be committed to doing the work even if it requires long hours. And, most likely, it will.

5. You must define what works for you.

No one else can tell you how to get there from here. And being an outstanding performer means figuring out how to make that leap yourself. Your goals will tell you what you need to do, and then you have to figure out how you can best do it. You also have to figure out what’s too much. When do you need a break? How do you know when you’re overloaded? How can you regain balance? How do you stay connected with those you love while pushing yourself to reach big goals?

Nina Garcia, Creative Director at Marie Claire, says this:

Finding this fine balance is what defines me. Books and magazines make me as do iPads and smartphones. The web has helped me to get in touch and meet new people, but I haven’t forgotten my old friends. I love Twitter, but I also love a real conversation that escapes a 140 character limit. I love to read fashion blogs but nothing can compete with the tactile touch of a haute couture gown.

6. You must think of the future.

Christopher Kane knew when he was just a little boy what he wanted to do. “I’ve always been ambitious, even from a young age,” he says. “I became tunnel vision at around 10 or 11. We got Sky TV and it had all these style programmes and I knew I wanted to be a fashion designer.”

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That long-term vision served him well; he had his own label selling worldwide before he turned 30. When you are thinking of how you want your life to look in 5, 10, 30 years, you get a lot clearer on what is a waste of time today.

Do you really need to read 27 Buzzfeed articles? Come up with another clever status update? See the latest X-Men flick three times? Or could you be doing something different, something that would actually get you to that future you want to have? If you want to actually get there, start doing it.

7. You must put others first.

People who end up at the top have to work hard. They have to focus. They have to say no, sometimes more than they want to. But that doesn’t mean they don’t value others (they do) and they know how to give. Average people try to get as much as they give. High performers give more than they take.

Adam Grant, author of Give and Take, says:

Then I looked at the other end of the spectrum and said if Givers are at the bottom, who’s at the top? Actually, I was really surprised to discover, it’s the Givers again. The people who consistently are looking for ways to help others are over-represented not only at the bottom, but also at the top of most success metrics. 

8. You must value honesty and transparency.

There’s no substitute for good values. If people learn that you aren’t trustworthy, that’s a lesson they won’t forget. Becoming who you want to be means that you need to start with a strong foundation. That foundation must include a commitment to integrity that you hold fast to, even when you might profit (temporarily) by waffling on your stance or hiding the truth.

Just don’t do it.

As entrepreneur and investor Amy Rees Anderson says,

Success will come and go, but integrity is forever. Integrity means doing the right thing at all times and in all circumstances, whether or not anyone is watching.

Featured photo credit: Mariano Kamp via flickr.com

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Last Updated on August 7, 2018

14 Powerful Leadership Traits That All Great Leaders Have

14 Powerful Leadership Traits That All Great Leaders Have

Being a leader of a company or organization is certainly a difficult and often frustrating position – but it can also be tremendously rewarding.

Whether you’re just starting out as a leader, or have been leading for a while, you’ll be sure to benefit from knowing the essential traits that all great leaders possess.

Effective and successful leaders transcend the title of ‘manager’ or ‘boss’. They’ve found a way to achieve the perfect combination of charisma, enthusiasm and self-assurance (with a healthy dose of luck and timing probably added to the mix).

It may seem like some people are gifted with leadership skills, but the truth is most leadership traits can be learned, adopted, and strengthened with time and practice.

As we delve into the list of effective leadership traits, you will learn the behaviors and attitudes of a good leader.

The 14 most important leadership traits

Please read through the list of leadership qualities carefully. Take note of which of the traits you excel at – and which ones you need to work at.

Traits for better self-development

1. Vision and mission

Having a clear picture of what needs to be achieved is a crucial quality of good leadership.

This vision is often communicated in a mission statement, such as this one from Starbucks:

    How to develop vision? Spend time pinpointing what you need to achieve, and then plan the steps to get there. Here’s a complete guide on creating your own vision.

    2. Self-motivated

    It’s no coincidence that successful leaders have an abundance of self-motivation.

    Without a decent level of self-motivation, you’ll struggle to become a strong and respected leader. However, if you don’t have a lot of self-motivation right now, don’t despair.

    One of the secrets is to have definite goals to keep you motivated at all times. Some people also choose to reward themselves every time they achieve a goal, and this is certainly a good way to keep yourself enthused and motivated. Learn how to set an ambitious yet achievable goal here.

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    3. Optimism and positivity

    Positive energy is contagious. Great leaders are overflowing with this type of energy.

    Not only does a positive mindset make leaders easy to work with, but it also gives them a constant source of inspiration and ideas.

    Tap into this energy by aligning yourself with positive people and positive goals. Find out more about the habits of positive people here.

    4. Emotional stability

    In leadership positions, frustration and stress are daily occurrences. This is why leaders need to have strong and stable emotions. They can’t allow themselves to be easily knocked off track.

    If you’re prone to losing your emotional stability when stressed or frustrated, try some of these techniques: breath deeply and slowly for 30 seconds, go for a walk, drink some water (instead of tea or coffee), turn your focus onto something you can resolve. Here’re some effective ways to control your emotions.

    5. Self-confidence

    Watch a presentation by any CEO and you’ll see that even if they’re not natural presenters – they make up for this by having powerful self-confidence.

    It’s not just CEOs who have self-confidence, any successful leader will have this trait in abundance. One reason for this, is that only a confident person can persuade others and gain their respect.

    Worried that you have low self-confidence? Try faking it. Psychologists often recommend that if you ‘act’ at being confident, you’ll start to look, sound and feel like you ARE confident. And in time… you will be.

    If you look for more ways to boost your self-confidence, this confidence coach has got you some nice advice:

    How to Be Confident: 62 Proven Ways to Build Self-Confidence

    6. Decisiveness

    Leaders are frequently called upon to make decisions (some leaders may have to make dozens of decisions every day). In fact, you could say that making decisions is one of the key things a leader must do.

    Spend some time observing highly-successful leaders and you’ll see that they are quick to make decisions. They also enjoy making decisions, rather than stressing out like many non-leaders do when they’re asked to decide on something.

    Put yourself in the leadership bracket by developing your decision-making skills. Start with small decisions – and then work your way up to bigger and more difficult decisions. Once other people notice your decision-making prowess, they’ll automatically see you as leadership material.

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    I know it’s really quite difficult to make the right decisions sometimes, but don’t worry, here’s a guide for you:

    How To Make Good Decisions All The Time

    7. Passion and enthusiasm

    Expressive. Active. Energetic. These are words best describe a passionate leader.

    Great leaders are lively, driven and are possessed with zeal and purpose. It’s this passion that helps them achieve big results. If you want to emulate their success, then you need to develop passion and enthusiasm for the work at hand, and the end goals.

    Take a look at this Passion Pyramid to find out how importance a leader’s passion is to the team:

      One way to do this is to find what motivates you, and keep your focus firmly on that. For example, i f you’re motivated by helping others, then make sure your role and company are both suited to realizing this. If you’re motivated by money, then put your focus on achieving bonuses and pay rises.

      Take a look at Leo Babauta’s guide on how to find your passion.

      8. Accountability and responsibility

      Exceptional leaders know that at all times they’ll need to take responsibility for tasks and their results. This includes things likes individual and team performance, as well as being accountable for when things go wrong.

      When negative things occur (and you can guarantee they will from time-to-time), a great leader will immediately step in and take responsibility. Initially, they’ll try to resolve the problem in as quick and smooth a way as possible. But if this is not feasible, they’ll be sure to say that the buck stops with them – and they take full responsibility for what has happened.

      To develop your leadership skills, you must never shy away from responsibility or accountability. If you prefer to sweep mistakes under the carpet, then you’re demonstrating non-leadership traits. Try owning up to issues and finding solutions to them. By doing this, you’ll immediately gain people’s respect.

      Find out some tips on how to be a more responsible person here.

      9. Focus

      Distractions are everywhere. And it takes major focus to stay committed to tasks and goals. The best leaders understand this, and therefore, they’re always looking at ways to boost their team’s focus.

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      One way leaders do this, is to keep their team intensely focused on the bigger picture. This might entail allocating specific time for tasks and eliminating any non-essential work.

      If you’re easily knocked off track, you’ll need to spend some time boosting your focus. Try planning your day, week, month and year to help ensure that you don’t fall behind with achieving your goals. Check out the 7 strategies of staying super focus recommended by a productivity coach.

      10. Ever-learning

      Leaders know that to be successful they need to continually update their skills and knowledge. They deliberately learn all they can about their profession and industry, so they’ll able to make confident and assured decisions.

      Why is ever learning so important? I’ll leave it to you to find out the reason here:

      If I Am Living a Good Life, Why Should I Bother Learning New Stuff?

      Imagine a CEO of a solar power company. His company may have amazing solar panels, but when it comes to discussing business with potential buyers, if the CEO or his sales team show a lack of understanding about the solar industry and future trends, etc., they’ll be unlikely to win any business.

      It’s exactly the same for you. If you’re a team leader at an electronics store, you should make sure you fully understand all the products that you offer. But go beyond just that, and read about upcoming products and trends that might change what customers are interesting in buying in the future.

      Traits for effective communication

      11. Empathy

      The best leaders understand the feeling of their team members, customers and associates. They know when to praise, and when to discuss problems (usually in private).

      Without empathy, leaders will be seen as cold, harsh and lacking understanding. They’re also likely to be regarded as untrustworthy.

      One way to ‘put yourself in someone else’s shoes’ is to have regular informal discussions with your colleagues. When you do this, you’ll quickly learn their fears and desires. And when you understand why they have these – you’ll be in a position to express empathy. You can also learn to be more sensitive to others’ needs by taking up these communication skills.

      12. Persuasive and influential

      Communications are at the heart of all transactions. Whether it’s pitching for a sale or resolving a customer complaint, how you communicate will determine the outcome.

      Charismatic leaders such as Richard Branson (Virgin) and Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) are confident and persuasive communicators. They know how to win over audiences and leave a lasting impressing in people’s minds.

      There’re some common barriers that you’ll have to overcome in order to communicate effectively:

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      How to learn effective communication? You could join the world-renowned U.S. nonprofit Toastmasters International. They’ve been training people in the art of public speaking since 1924, and members have included Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich, and Star Trek actor Leonard Nimoy.

      If you don’t have time to join a club, then practice your communications skills at home. You can do this in front of a mirror, or even better, video yourself presenting, and then ask some friends and family members for feedback. You’ll be amazed at what they pick up on.

      Traits for ensuring an engaging team

      13. Team building

      If you put a bunch of random people together, you may have a loose definition of a team. In reality, a real team has purpose, drive – and a leader lighting the way.

      If you’ve worked in different teams and with different managers, you’ll no doubt have come to this conclusion:

      Managers who treat their team members like children are unpopular with the team. Conversely, managers who treat their team members like adults, are respected and well-liked by the team.

      The days of disciplinarian managers are passed. Nowadays, successful team leaders know how to inspire and motivate their team, while keeping a harmonious atmosphere between all team members.

      14. Fostering creativity

      Solutions to problems are rarely black and white. Often it takes a leader who can ‘think outside the box’ to come up with answers. In other words, a leader must be creative, and also help to foster creativity and innovation throughout their team.

      Creativity is not only associated with pursuits such as arts, literature and music, running a team can be just as creative. There will be times every day when you need to come up with ideas and give guidelines for your team to come up with theirs to solve problems.

      Leadership is a journey of continuous learning

      Leadership is an amazing experience that will take you on roads you’ve never traveled before.

      Begin now to build your skills and experience, pick out the traits that you currently lack – and then work on developing those.

      It will take tons of practice and time before becoming an effective leader but eventually you will join the ranks of great leaders.

      Featured photo credit: unsplash via unsplash.com

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