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OBSESSIONS OF AN
EXTRAORDINARY LEADER
by Jim Will, Ph.D.

Are you ever frustrated with people resisting change, low performers, a lack of teamwork, and sometimes too much conflict in your life? The Internet and libraries are filled with information about leadership. Let's look at some simple and practical ways to enhance your leadership skills whether it's in the arena, at the office, or at home.

I have been observing exceptional and productive leaders for many years. They have broad shoulders, and I'm not talking about their physical structure. They are mentally tough and yet compassionate. The mental toughness is necessary for them to take their vision and forge into difficult frontiers at times.

They are visionaries – they see things others may not be aware of, notice, or believe are possible. This takes a lot of guts because most people are negative, impossibility thinkers. Unbeknownst or deliberately, they are trying to steal the leader's vision.

I've noticed the great leaders will improve (or remove) their low performers. Their counterparts will ignore them – hoping that they will go away – so they don't have to deal with them. A high-performance person will leave that organization very quickly. They do not have the time nor the inkling to put up with "the garbage." So if you're trying to build an outstanding team, there will be times in which you will have to get rid of some of the negative, impossibility thinkers – they are cancerous to your goals and to the rest of the team.

Extraordinary leaders praise what they want to continue and punish what they want to stop. They take care of and pay their people well. They complement them sincerely – never placating them. They promote the people who deliver those results, and they create an environment where ownership is fostered.

They pay attention to what's important, and they know what's not important or irrelevant to the big picture. They have an obsession for perfection, and yet they have patience. They know how to coach and manage those willing and wanting to buy into their visions. They retain their high performers, keep them motivated, and inspire them to want to change and be the very best at whatever position they hold on the team.

They tackle difficult personalities – whiners, drama queens, out-of-control egos, sarcastic, ridiculers, people who put other people down. They deal with conflicts by resolving them and thus improving teamwork. They hire the right kind of people. They attract the superstars, and they avoid the nonproductive failures.

They influence without being authoritarian. They dare to be different. They learn how to speak so others will listen. They lead by example. They pitch in and do some of the grunt work if need be. You might think these things can be painful, but extraordinary leaders realize the real pain is when they ignore these issues.

One might argue that this takes too much time, but how much time is just one of those people consuming and stealing from you and your reputation as a leader? I promise you that those negative people will de-motivate your other teammates. Are they willing to improve? If so, an outstanding leader can show them that change is easy and possible.

Studies have shown that only 10 percent of leaders know how to manage and resolve conflicts effectively. People judge leaders by their actions while many leaders judge themselves by their intentions. Ninety percent of leaders who think they're effective communicators are considered by only 11 percent of their employees to actually be good communicators.

It's the people skills of your team and leadership that in my opinion will give you an edge over your competition. You are lucky to have a leader and coach in Sharon Camarillo. Model her behavior as you build your own team of coaches, vets and supporters.