3 Ways To Be An Extraordinary Leader

I find it’s not the huge actions that create an extraordinary leader, at least from the person being lead. The big actions are the results of many smaller actions that lead to an extraordinary leader.

You don't have to be Superman to be extraordinary

Image by JD Hancock

To truly be a great leader, you’ve got to do work on the simple matters. Little things too many people overlook because they want to be seen as great, right away.

Let’s look at 3 ways you can become an extraordinary leader.

1. Thank your team: The company my wife works for held an annual Christmas party where they thanked their team. They fed them, gifted them, and thanked them.

This left both my wife and I feeling overwhelmed, to the point of tears.

The simple act of a Christmas party thanking everyone left such a lasting impression on our lives. My wife felt her hard work was appreciated and so is the work of the rest of the team.

You’ll be amazed how far a little thank you will go.

2. Listen to your team: You may be the leader but you don’t have all of the answers. There are surprising insights that you can gain if you stop to listen to your team.

Ask questions and discover what the needs are. Discover what the struggles of your team are. Discover what others are noticing.

You won’t always be able to see what needs to be done. Your position is quite different from the person on the front line.

And because of that, there’s no better person to ask than the person doing the work. Ask and listen. You may get the breakthrough you’ve been desiring.

3. Educate your team: Having ignorant team members hinders the ability of your company to be world-class. Instead of keeping your team in the dark, begin educating them on the inner-workings of the business.

Help them rise above their current level. Help them develop new skills. Help them to grow into new positions.

Realize extraordinary leadership isn’t world changing, at least in the actions you take. To become an extraordinary leader, it’s about taking the small steps and focusing on your team.

When you begin to do this, you’ll rise from an ordinary leader to a leader who changes the world one person at a time.

Question: What do you do to be an extraordinary leader? Please share your secret in the comment section below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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  • I don’t have a team but if the companies I worked for had adopted these principles their workers would have been far more productive.

    • It’s sad many companies won’t implement methods to lead better. The companies that lost you lost a good man.

      • I just heard Kimanzi’s story on Nick Loper’s Side Hustle Nation podcast recently… and WOW. Those companies really lost a great one when Kimanzi left. Don’t know if you’re reading this, but if you are, thanks for sharing your story, Kimanzi! (and everyone else ought to google that podcast and listen now!)

  • Great foundational points there Joe! I think extraordinary leadership comes from a genuine sense of curiosity. Curiosity to learn about people, curiosity to become better at what you do. When you channel your curiosity from a leadership perspective, I think you’ll get to see everything from this unique lens.

    • Definitely Paul. Seeing things in different ways will make you an extraordinary leader! What’s one way curiosity has helped you lead better?

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  • Solid points Joe – to truly be an extraordinary leader you must not only do these things, but also do them WELL. You hit the nail on the head with the line “it’s about taking the small steps and focusing on your team.”

    • Yeah Jon, leaders have got to do these things well to be extraordinary but even doing these things badly puts leaders leaps and bounds above others.

      • Can they do these things so badly and artlessly though that they just upset people rather than build them up?

        For example, if the leader has a rough personality, there’s a fine line between education and bullying others into learning.

        • Great question. There is the possibility that someone could implement these things badly and upset people. However, you’d have to be really, really bad.

    • Pioneer Outfitters

      And consistently!!

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  • I think point 1 is extremely important Joe. People give more effort when they feel appreciated. That is when it becomes more about the good of the organization than the individual. Great post.

    • That they do Jimmy. It’s amazing what a little compliment here or there can do for your team. It’s a free energizer that a leader can give at any time, as long as it’s sincere.

  • In my experience, extraordinary leaders reproduce. It’s not just about the team working FOR the leader, or working together WITH the leader – it’s about the leader seeing the individuals on the team and making them into extraordinary leaders in their own right. Then everyone benefits – the team, the leader, and the organization as a whole.

    Great post, Joe. Thanks for the insight and encouragement!

    • Bam! That’s a great insight Ed.

    • I posted this two weeks ago on Instagram. I learned this by taking The Landmark Forum a few weeks ago. It kind of validates what you are saying Ed.

      • Hey! Sorry for the late reply! What an awesome quote!

      • What’s The Landmark Forum, by the way? And what did you use to make your Instagram graphic? Way cool.

  • John Heerhold

    Point number one is essential. Most people make an error and never show appreciation for those who are creating an impact for their business. Great post.

    • John, I’m with you on that. Too few so-called leaders never tell their team good job. What do you think could help encourage leaders to do this?

  • An extraordinary leader gives credit and takes blame.

  • Great post Joe! Excellent points and very true. I’m amazed at how many managers do not get these points and yet it is so simple to do.

    One point I’ve learned to do is take an interest in the employee’s family, spouse and children. When the son plays sports at a high school competition, I ask about it the next day. This may be pretty basic, but being a bit introverted, I didn’t realize how important it is.

    • Well, I think managers don’t get these points because it goes beyond managing to actually leading.

  • Pioneer Outfitters

    Well, Joe, nobody said so..so I will ~ THESE 3 points and how you explained them cover great and EXTRAORDINARY Leadership. Period. Simple. This is THE point of all we write ~ it really-really is that simple.
    But obviously, and painfully for some I am sure- it is NOT easy for everyone to simply “Do”.
    #1- Thank your Team: so many people are AFRAID- to the point of stressing in their own writings and teaching- how BAD it is to “be too personal”. How important it is to draw lines in the sand/dirt/carpet/concrete that others are not allowed to cross otherwise you may not be Professional -enough. “Thank you” is very personal.
    #2-Listen to your Team: Walk your Talk, people. I was burned horribly very recently- by all the right and bright words, but when it came down to it- when I showed how incredible all I had learned worked- it was a threat – which in turn made me a threat- to guess what (?)- yep- EGO.
    #3: It is the same- fear. Fear and ego.

    • That’s true, people do struggle with actual doing. It’s no different than in any other part of life. But once we start doing, doing begins to become easier.

  • Your second point is invaluable. I was working for a client, who brought in a new manager for the team I was on. The manager took the time to meet with everyone individually and find out what they did and their skill sets.

    In my meeting with him, we clashed, locked horns on spreadsheets vs databases, consultants (me) vs employees (him), in general leaving me feeling my days were numbered. Yet 18 months later, when he was promoted he was singing the praises of my work.

    For a while I thought it was because of how great I am…but soon realized it was because of how great of a leader and manager he is. He not only took the time to listen (note this is different from simply hearing) He LISTENED even in the midst of our disagreement. Then he took the time to see what I could deliver, even as that meant I showing him his original disagreement was wrong.

    Perhaps that should be your fourth point: Great Leaders are correctable.

    • That’s so cool to hear of a new manager taking time to gather the input of his team. This probably put him so far ahead in the minds of his team that the promotion was only inevitable.

  • Listening and thanking your team are so essential! A small gift or saying “thank you” can mean the word to someone. Great post Joe!