9 Characteristics of Standout Leaders

Every year TIME Magazine comes out with a Person of the Year — known for a certain accomplishment, task, or impact made on society. In 2014, the award went to the Ebola Fighters. One man highlighted was Dr. Jerry Brown.

He remains a strong servant leader, as he fights the battle against the Ebola disease in Africa. Dr. Brown is one of those standout leaders that people all over the world appreciate. Here are some of the leadership characteristics that he and other standout leaders possess.

standout leaders

9 Characteristics of Standout Leaders:

1. Goes Against the Grain

Sometimes as a leader you have to do what is unpopular in order to lead well and serve others. Dr. Brown’s family didn’t want him to be at the hospital and take care of EBOLA patients; however, he knew what he had to do if he wanted to make a difference.

2. Leads by Example

As you lead, peers, co-workers, superiors, and family look to you as a reflection of how to behave. “If the doctor can do it, then we can do it as well.” The nurses working with Dr. Brown saw him jump into action and quickly followed suit. They saw their leader serving without hesitation. He didn’t just bark out orders without also doing them himself.

3. Carries a Sense of Responsibility

When you have a purpose and a sense of responsibility for a task, your motivation, performance, and dedication skyrocket. Dr. Brown saw the epidemic breaking out around him. He saw the need for an isolation area for the patients. He filled the need. His sense of responsibility took precedence as he takes the challenge head on.

4. Resourceful

When faced with a challenge, leaders seek out the resources they possess to make things happen and ensure success. When a need arose for an isolated quarantine area, Dr. Brown quickly prepared a chapel in his town to house the sick and keep them isolated.

5. Steps Up in Times of Need

Standout leaders seek opportunities to fill a need and initiate the necessary action steps to make it happen. For Dr. Brown, he provided a vacant chapel for the Ebola patients to be taken care of in an isolated and peaceful space. Other areas of the country needed this quarantine area. They approached him, and he quickly provided the space for them.

6. Has a Great Support System

You’ve often heard it said: Behind every good leader is an even better spouse.  I would generalize this to fit all leaders and say that behind every great leader is an incredible support system. Although reluctant at first, Dr. Brown’s wife stood by him and his vision for helping Ebola patients and treating them. He needed her affirmation and encouragement to keep accomplishing all he was doing medically at the hospital. Who do you have cheering you on as you lead?

7. Overcomes Fear

Leadership is scary. You will have fears, but don’t let them keep you from becoming one of your organization’s standout leaders. When first faced with the Ebola disease and breakout, Dr. Brown could have let fear grip him and keep him from impacting hundreds, if not thousands, of lives. While fearful of the disease, he overcame that fear and accepted the challenge of treating a very dangerous epidemic.

8. Willing to Take Risks

Taking calculated risks as a leader can set you above the rest in your field. While difficult at times, making uncomfortable decisions stretches you and ultimate increases your impact. Interfacing with Ebola on a daily basis proves to be a risk Dr. Brown accepts. Being in contact with patients and carriers put him at risk on a daily basis, but he takes on the risk, in order to make a difference in the lives of those around him.

9. Sees the Big Picture

You cannot lead within a vaccum. You need to grasp a vision for where you are going as a leader, organization, or staff. Time magazine stated it well: “To control a contagion, it’s not enough to treat the visible patients; you must find and contain every strand and tendril of the web.” Dr. Brown and his team sought to not only treat the disease, but also investigate, research and learn all they could about its existence. How narrow is your vision of where you want to go as a leader?

When you look at these characteristics of standout leaders, which areas are your greatest strengths? Which traits can you develop more? Time and experience allows you to deepen these abilities, but coaching also provides the opportunity to intentionally work through these to maximize your impact in your sphere of influence.

Coaching is not for everyone. If you have too much on your plate and can’t commit some time to making changes, coaching isn’t for you. If you want a quick fix and aren’t willing to be persistent and see real changes, then coaching isn’t for you. If you know it all already, coaching definitely isn’t for you. If none of those describe you, contact us to get started becoming one of the top standout leaders in your organization.