How Ordinary People Can Become Extraordinary Leaders

Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 8.19.55 AMIf you want to lead like an extraordinary leader, you first have to know how to be a leader.

When it comes to leadership, most people concentrate on what you need to do.

But that’s not the whole story.

Who you are as leader, is just as important as what you do

Whatever you’re doing, it’s who you are being while you are doing that can take you from good to great, to from ordinary to extraordinary.

Here are a few of the best ways to fuel your leadership with a blend of being and doing:

Remember that everything starts with character: Character fundamentally shapes how we engage the world around us, —what we notice, what we reinforce, who we interact, what we value, what we choose to act on, how we decide. If you want to go from ordinary to extraordinary leadership, it’s your character, not your circumstances, that will take you there. Character is the real foundation of all everything worthwhile.

Constantly display confidence: A leader with great skills and competence is good; a leader with good competence plus great confidence is great. Truly successful leaders can may be smart, analytical thinkers. They can may be ten steps ahead of everybody else, the kind who always knows exactly what to do, where to go and how to get there, but without the confidence to communicate and lead, all all their thinking won’t get them far. The bottom line: where there is no confidence, there is usually no leadership.

Actively seek challenges: To go from ordinary to extraordinary you must grow and develop as a leader, and to do that, you need to get comfortable with discomfort. It’s the key foundational element to success. Extraordinary leaders actively seek challenging assignments for growth and development.

Embrace risk: No extraordinary leader has made the it big by wavering and waffling. Being bold and brash is not necessarily the key to great leadership, but taking chances and embracing the notion of risk is. Nobody looks up to those who shy off life’s challenges and are complacent with being just good enough. Good is not great and great is not extraordinary. Extraordinary leaders know that to succeed, you have to take risks to get what you want.

Build on your capacity to take action. The leaders who stand apart from the rest all have the capacity to act—not rashly, but quickly and decisively. A leader who has to be convinced to do something is not a person of action. The best of the best jump in and lead to get the job done. It’s unrealistic to think that you can achieve leadership success on the basis of only your competencies or capabilities—you also need to be extraordinary at taking action.

Develop an appetite for change. Introducing change into an organization can be challenging. People are often hesitant to accept change and argue to retain the status quo even if it’s not what it should be. Even though we all know change is inevitable, in the midst of transformation too many leaders abdicate. The extraordinary ones, however, are strong and take charge.
The best kind of leader envisions, defines, and facilitates change, transforming their organizations and igniting growth. Develop your ability and appetite for being an agent of change.

Engage to acknowledge: To create a high energy and commitment throughout an organization, you need to understand that to engage is to acknowledge and appreciate. A great leader values people’s happiness; an extraordinary leader values the employee engagement that creates happiness. Engagement and leadership are linked together more closely than most people imagine. With engagement, you can change an organization’s culture, people and success.

Motivate and inspire: An ordinary leader may rally people together; an extraordinary leader lifts them up and inspires them to perform at their best. Motivation gets people going and inspiration leads them to do great work. Human beings all deeply want to be able to believe in something—it’s basic human nature. If you want to motivate and inspire, you must understand the core needs of your people and nurture them, develop them and support them.

Give trust, earn trust, build trust:. With trust you can truly change the world. Trust is the heart of leadership. It leads to faster results, deeper relationships and stronger connections. It develops extraordinary leaders at every level whose actions and words are consistent with their principles and values. These are the elements that typically produce consistently high performance almost any way you can measure it—gross sales, profits, talent retention, company reputation, customer satisfaction. The accumulation of trust is a measure of the legitimacy of leadership. It cannot be mandated or purchased; it must be given, earned and built.

Shape and strengthen through experiences: Extraordinary leaders know that you shape people by shaping their experiences. They don’t tend to be the ones who stand out in a crowd; they don’t mesmerize audiences with their eloquence. What distinguishes them is the clarity and persuasiveness of their ideas, the depth of their commitment, and their openness to continually learning more and creating experiences for people. They know how to shape you so you can shape the world.

Lead from within: Anyone can become an extraordinary leader. All you have to do is perform ordinary feats with excellence.


N A T I O N A L   B E S T S E L L E R

The Leadership Gap
What Gets Between You and Your Greatness

After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images

Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR,, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.

  1. Gagan Chauhan

    30. Aug, 2016

    This really is an inspiring post. Well done, Lolly Daskal! I’m glad I received your email today and read this post. Awesome and on my way to creating something Awesome. Thanks! Looking forward to reading more of your post!

    Reply to this comment
  2. Firew

    03. Sep, 2016

    It is a big lessons !

    Reply to this comment
  3. Chacha Nkombe

    06. Sep, 2016

    how are you? Congratulation ! Your posts on Twitter always grow me bigger and bigger intellectually . Thank you for educating me always .

    Reply to this comment
  4. Belinda Hsieh

    23. Sep, 2016

    Hi Lolly! Thank you for giving me a confidence boost. You provide inspiring advice. I am always trying to fine tune and seek better ways to improve my leadership style to be more impactful.

    Reply to this comment
  5. Carmelita

    29. Sep, 2016

    I really enjoyed this article. Thank you for articulating leadership in such a positive way.

    Reply to this comment
  6. bamidele farinre

    09. Oct, 2016

    I am inspired by this post. I have noted a few point’s that stand out to me. Leading from within and engagement….powerful nuggets on becoming extraordinary leader

    Reply to this comment
  7. Patrick

    03. Feb, 2017

    This was a great read indeed. I will definitely apply these notes to the things I do.

    Reply to this comment
  8. Tahir

    31. Mar, 2017

    Inspired article.

    Reply to this comment
  9. Dr. Scott Simmerman

    03. Jun, 2017

    It is a good list, but so many of these lists seem to ignore the reality that involving and engaging people and generating their active involvement and engagement in their work is such an essential part of keeping any group of people motivated and aligned.

    We are constantly seeing leadership training focused on leadership, but so seldom do we see it focused on empathy with the workers and the identification of the issues that they face on a daily basis. The best leaders I have ever been around were not self-focused but did more to impact the lives of their people.

    SO much data suggests that people are not respected or trusted, and that their ideas are ignored. And leadership development also seems to always focus on where the money is, the TOP of the organization, and not on those supervisors who struggle so badly. DDI says 11% get training, for example, and that 40% of the MANAGERS are un-engaged within their own organizations. So little of this “leadership stuff” seems to trickle down to the bottom levels of organizations. Sad, since that is who managers the workers and their lives and real excellence.

    Reply to this comment
  10. M H Bhatti

    05. Sep, 2017

    This really is an inspiring post.I like it very much.yes it is very useful to common people.i agreed with all points.

    Reply to this comment
  11. Greg Githens

    13. Jun, 2018

    Let’s see if I understand this…….
    Extraordinary leadership is “who you are being” while you are doing. I assume that ordinary leadership is the baseline of “doing,” so that the extra- of ordinary is the “being.”

    My experience is that people have a somewhat-reasonable understanding of what it means to be a leader. They know that their “being” must embrace attitudes of serving others, being conscientious & caring, and looking outward into the world as it is AND as they wish it to be. It seems to me that most people who practice leadership get the “being” part pretty well.

    I’m less confident that people “do” leadership extraordinarily well. I think the article is right to imply that courage is important, but I find that people have a hard time “doing” courage.

    Reply to this comment

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