“Good leadership consists of showing average people how to do the work of superior people.” ~John D. Rockefeller

Great leaders are doers and difference-makers. They take people where they are, and dare them to become greater than the sum of their individual talents.

This post continues my Letters of the Alphabet Leadership series. You can read the 12 Most Captivating “C” Characteristics of Leaders to catch up. Meanwhile, let’s take stock on how many of these Differentiators of Great Leaders YOU have!

1. Daring

Great leaders know when to be conservative and when to be daring. They judiciously take risks to achieve greater success. I love this quote attributed to Cecil Beaton: “Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary.”

2. Dazzling

To dazzle is to shine brightly and arouse admiration with an impressive display. Great leaders do shine brightly, and they definitely garner admiration.

3. Decisive

Team members want to know they picked the right leader who will not waffle when it comes to decision making. Great leaders are decisive as they rely on experience, intuition and preparedness.

4. Dedicated

I think dedication is even more important for the small business leader. When resources are tight, employees frequently make concessions in regards to wages or free time. They want to know their leaders have at least the same amount of dedication. Great leaders cannot afford to rest on their laurels and start treating their job like a hobby after they’ve attained a measure of success. They are dedicated for the long haul!

5. Deft

Great leaders are deft negotiators and communicators. They can assemble a team of disparate personalities and deftly drive that team of individuals to achieve team goals. By focusing on authenticity and integrity, they also avoid the “manipulative” reputation.

6. Delightful

It definitely is not a prerequisite for great leaders to be engaging and delightful. Earned respect and professional “body of work” goes a long way to establishing bona fides. However, we are attracted to charismatic people. Great leaders can be delightful in their candor, lack of pretense, and timely use of humor and storytelling.

7. Desirable

Speaking of “body of work”, it is rare that a great leader simply bursts onto the scene. If these people took the time to complete their LinkedIn profiles, what a story they would tell! Their achievements and advancement to greater levels of authority are marks of successful careers built over time. That makes leaders desirable both to leadership teams and the employees who count on the decisions made by those leadership teams.

8. Dexter

Great leaders know how to make the bad people disappear! Now, before you go buying Saran Wrap and plastic sheets, I advise more peaceable solutions. Leaders do not fear conflict and the appropriate steps to conflict resolution. They seek compromise when possible, and they are prepared to surgically remove the cancers in an organization within the constraints established by their human resources department (no felonies required).

9. Differentiable

Research shows that star job performers are no longer strictly motivated by compensation. An organization with a differentiable leadership team in regards to innovation, work ethic, industry recognition and successful track record will attract and keep these star job performers. Everybody loves jumping on the success bandwagon.

10. Diplomatic

Leaders understand the art of diplomacy. Shareholders, clients, employees and peer managers all require diplomatic intervention at some point. Leaders have the confidence to neither go on the offensive nor get overly defensive. Instead, they diplomatically seek resolutions with maximum benefits resulting in the least compromise from all parties.

11. Disruptive

One of the RSS feeds I subscribe to is the Daily Disruption. They even award a Disrupter of the Day to the leaders that push beyond the status quo. These are the constructively disruptive leaders who live the George Bernard Shaw quote: “People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.”

12. Dynamic

Have you ever met a great leader who spoke in a monotone? Do people with great convictions act listlessly? NO! Leaders express their vision and their convictions dynamically. They inspire through their actions and experiences.

I hope you enjoyed these dazzling differentiators of great leaders. What do you aspire to be? What “D” descriptors would you add to the list?

In keeping with tradition, here are 12 descriptors to avoid in your leadership journey: despicable, despotic, destructive, detested, detrimental, diabolical, discombobulated, discourteous, draconian, dubious, dull, and duplicitous.

Republished with permission, courtesy of 12 Most. Photo Credit: ”Letter D by Leo Reynolds, on Flickr

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