5 Things Great Leaders Do

While there are several things to consider when asking yourself how you are doing, it’s prudent to focus on your attitudes and behaviors. These are the biggest differentiators between great leaders and failing leaders because they demonstrate the four core emotional intelligence metrics: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, and Relationship Management.

Here are five winning behaviors that show up consistently in leaders who succeed:

1. They read/understand their emotions and recognize the impact on themselves and others.

It all begins with the amount of emotional self-awareness you demonstrate, which others around you use as a cue. By developing an accurate view of, and aptly managing, your own emotional responses to situations—and the ways in which you impact others’ responses—the rest of your skills and talents will be duly magnified and leveraged.

Great leaders know what pushes their buttons and where their passions lie. They know how to manage themselves and others in times of high stakes emotion, crisis, conflict, and when backs are to the wall. Great leaders know their impact on others matter, regardless of intent and pay close attention to their impact, regularly seeking feedback so they may recover gracefully when their impact and intent are not in synch.

2. They know their strengths and limits.

The best leaders understand they can never know and do everything and don’t pretend that they do. Instead, they recognize what they are really good at and leverage those skills, spending time doing what they do best and continuing to learn in areas where they are not as accomplished.

Great leaders surround themselves with people who are smarter and more experienced than they are in areas of their own personal gaps. A great leader will assert. When you understand what you know, don’t know, and how you tick, you can more readily understand how to lead others to their highest potential, honoring their unique needs, motivations, strengths, and challenges.

3. They know and have a good sense of their self-worth and capability.

There is a big difference between confidence and arrogance. Confidence comes from a strong sense of self-worth and self-awareness. Arrogance comes from fear in many cases and a sense of entitlement in others. The best leaders are very confident in what they know and can do from an objective view. They continuously test themselves to see what they are capable of, stretching, growing and learning.

At the same time, great leaders tend to be grounded, centered, stable people who are calm during a crisis, and rock solid in modeling their core values, particularly under pressure. A sure sign of this quality is when others say, “I always know and respect where he stands, even if I disagree.”

4. They think and act with optimism.

People generally fall in two categories–those who think and act through the lens of abundance, and those who think and act through a lens of scarcity. Attitudes shift throughout our lives for many reasons, and great leaders know the message they are sending about whatever attitude is current.

Great leaders go for solutions, new ideas, and silver linings, even in the worst of times. They may change course, but they never give up. They thoughtfully navigate their staffers to a better place—often to places their subordinates didn’t even know or believe possible. The best leaders will tell the truth even if the “sky is falling” and then shine a light on the path to get everyone to a better place.

5. They see and seize opportunities for contributing to the greater good.

Despite conventional thinking, great leaders have low ego needs because of their solid confidence and self-worth. By not wasting time and energy on shining up their image, they free up energy and time to create something greater than themselves, often building a legacy that contributes to something more important than their personal agendas. Great leaders have an achievement orientation that is laser focused on the greater good.

Great leaders believe in a shared vision and continuously drive to the best outcome for the most people involved. These are the leaders people talk glowingly about long after they are gone from the job–or from life.

By Roxi Hewertson


Roxana (Roxi) Bahar Hewertson has spent her career revealing myths and honing truths about what makes a leader successful. She helps leaders boost quantifiable job performance in critical facets of business to achieve or exceed organizational and career goals. At the core of her success as CEO of Highland Group Consulting, Inc. (www.highlandconsultinggroupinc.com), is her passion to empower leaders on their journey to building their leadership skills, honing their interpersonal effectiveness and sharpening their capacity to create great results.