Powerful Characteristics Leaders Look For in Employees

We had been looking at Salesforce.com for the last hour when my leader finally turned to me and said something I will never forget:  “I know you are proud of your sales performance, and you should be, but it’s far from all I care about.”  When he said this, it hit me like a ton of bricks.  I had gotten so caught up in performance and results I had missed an opportunity to differentiate myself over other sales reps based on the things he actually cared about.

Fast forward 7 years and one of the best things about hosting a podcast focused on transferring stories and best practices of today’s leaders to the leaders of tomorrow is learning what leaders from all different industries, backgrounds, and demographics truly care about. Whether you’re currently a leader or you’re part of a team, understanding what and how great leaders think is incredibly valuable.

We’ve been told leaders care about revenue and production, (and they do) but those are just table stakes. Every business pays its employees to produce results, but that’s not what real leaders actually care about – it’s what they expect. It’s critical to differentiate between expectations and care.

When you understand this difference, it will change the way you work with your leaders and the intangibles you bring to work everyday. You can move your focus from solely meeting their expectations to helping them drive the business forward in ways that make you invaluable.

If you’re providing value beyond the expectations set for your role, here are things you’re bringing to work that your leader actually cares about:

You have character and values

“You know the character of a man in how their dog and kids react to them.” Kids and dogs are honest and know who you really are deep down by how you treat them. Character is defined as “The mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual “ It’s the thoughts, behaviors, feelings you exemplify daily. Check out this video to learn more. You know the value of bringing your character and values into the workplace and you couldn’t turn your character off if you wanted to – it’s in your core.

You help solve problems not complicate them

We have a rule in our office: you can’t complain about a problem without presenting an idea for how to solve it.  You understand challenges arise every single day and instead of adding to the confusion, elongating problems, or creating work for other people, you create resolutions.

You are a team player

The great soccer player Tony Adams famously said, “Play for the name on the front of the shirt, and they’ll remember the name on the back.” Leaders know nothing great happens when people only play for themselves. They want a collection of individuals who make each other perform better.  You are quick to help others and slow to take credit.  You always have an eye out for others on your team to help them in times of professional or even personal need.

You are a lifelong learner

In my interview with Steve Richard, Founder of ExecVision, (on next week’s episode of the Follow My Lead podcast) he talks about a simple question he asks in interviews: “What’s the last book you read voluntarily?”  By asking this simple question it tells a lot about a professional’s commitment to their craft.  You understand how important this is so you read, listen to podcasts, watch educational youtube videos to consistently educate yourself about your industry and profession.

You persevere when the going gets tough

Anyone can produce when life is rosy and everything is going well.  You do the hard things necessary like taking action and solving problems when things get difficult.  You are proactive in finding ways to change the course of your personal or the team’s circumstances when everyone else wants to quit or give up.

The next time you find yourself only concerned with producing results and ensuring that your leader is aware of your recent success, think back to this article. Remember, your leader thinks and cares about other things, as much as, if not more than results. And it’s those other things that will differentiate you.

Online Leadership Programs. LearnLoft’s out of the box training approach to helping modern professionals learn how to add value to their organization and world. Find out more about ‘Getting Leadership Ready’, a program designed to help young professionals understand what leadership really is and how to stand out as a potential leader. Their brand new program ‘High Performance Leadership’ teaches the core principles of performance leadership and provides tools and techniques to drive accountability in teams.

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