Passing the Test as a Standout Leader

08 July 2019
Blue Balloons

Think back on the leaders that you you’ve liked – they’ll also be the ones that were successful, as they combine competence with ‘likeability’. They’ll be your ‘stand out’ leaders. Whilst management leadership courses often focus the skills and competences expected of a leader, such as how to give feedback, how to communicate, how to handle conflict, rarely do they focus on the core characteristics that define stand out leaders.

See how these twelve characteristics, in no particular order match up to your own experience of a ‘stand out’ leader:

Drive This is ambition, motivation and hope. It’s the leader who doesn’t tolerate ‘sameness and mediocrity’. They constantly ask ‘how can we be different’ rather than ‘how can we copy the best competition’. They’re only satisfied when they’re looking for ways to improve, that are challenging but ultimately rewarding to achieve. These stand out leaders work with tireless energy, passion and urgency.

Judgement This means making good decisions at the right time based on clear data, but leaders with judgement are flexible enough to change their minds if new information becomes available, and they certainly don’t suffer from ‘decidophobia’  - the fear of making decisions.

Courage A decision may be unpopular, but still the stand out leader makes the right decision. It’s this characteristic of courage that compels people to recover from unpleasant and perhaps unsettling experiences, encouraged by their leader to draw a line, look ahead and move on.

Collaboration They see their colleagues and employees as allies, they constantly and passionately communicate their vision and strategy, they listen carefully, they’re generous with their time and don’t make it just about them as the leader. They  encourage shared ideas and decision making, when it’s possible.

Promote Imperfection and encourage it. These leaders know that perfection doesn’t exist in business, and while people covet it they are standing still. They also know that for their team to learn, they’ll inevitability make some mistakes, and as leaders, they’ll let their people know it’s ok not to be 100% perfect, let them know they trust them, and encourage them to grow.

They are positive in words and actions, and enthusiastic about each day, and the possibilities it holds for them to make a difference. This positivity is tantilising to the people they lead and makes a huge impact to the overall performance of the team.

Focus When these leaders are in the room, they totally dedicate their attention to the task in hand, which means arriving on time, not being distracted by phone or emails, and completely respecting the purpose of the meeting, and everyone’s involvement.

They’re steady and reassuring, even when faced with pressure and uncertainty. They don’t overreact and their people know what to expect, as they’re predictable when faced with challenges. This allows those they lead to react in a similar way.

Humility whilst successful leaders could thrive on their ego, these stand out leaders don’t exhibit arrogance, and in fact they prefer to be recognised through their team for contributing to their own success.

Justice and this means consistency, openness, honesty and impartiality. These standout leaders will make fair decisions free from unconscious bias, and they’ll remain objective even during times of turbulence.

Integrity they act in an ethical way and build strong relationships with others that are built on trust and respect, engendering strong commitment in return. They demonstrate and expect high standards.

They work hard but have fun These leaders know the importance of maintain balance between life and work, and how to relax and have fun, and will encourage their people to do the same.


Stand out leaders are not just good, or great, they’re unforgettable. They’ll lead through influence to build a powerful and committed team, which in turn will create a higher performing business.

InspiringHR can help you strive for stand out leadership, through bespoke management and leadership development that’s right for your business, find out more here

Nichola Roskell
Director - Inspiring HR















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