10 Key Leadership Development Tips for Exceptional Leaders

Being an exceptional leader goes beyond leading people. It’s about giving your team a sense of purpose and the zeal to pursue a worthy ideal.  

When we think about exceptional leaders, several famous names come to the fore – Winston Churchill, Barack Obama, Peter Drucker and the more familiar names of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Emeka Anyaoku, etc.  

But what is the secret behind these people? What leadership development tips truly made them exceptional? How did they crack the leadership influence code 

Is it possible that they are the rarest exceptions and were so great that their gifts are not replicable?  

In reality, anyone can develop into an exceptional leader with the right principles, motivation, and values. Many exceptional leaders were once ordinary people who had to consciously develop their leadership skills.  

Leadership is a behaviour you assume by continuous conscious learning that develops into an intuitive and unconscious activity. However, many people question how exceptional leaders, who are constantly under immense pressure, always know how to make the right decisions. This process results from constant exposure to and interaction with various situations, personality types, and unforeseen failures.  

However, to become an exceptional leader, you must first show the traits of a good leader. So, what is the difference?  

Difference between a Good and Exceptional Leader  

Let’s explain the difference between these kinds of leaders in a simple table.  


So how can you be an Exceptional Leader?  

Here are ten (10) leadership development tips to consider and apply to become an exceptional leader:  

Find a Mentor  

My job is not to be easy on people. My job is to take the great people we have, push them, and make them even better. – Steve Jobs  

Without mentors, the exceptional leaders we listed at the start won’t have had the breakthroughs the world witnessed. From leaders like Nelson Mandela to Warren Buffet, a common factor connects them; a mentor.  

The most excellent leaders know when they need help. One of the ways to truly be exceptional in your field is to learn directly from someone who’s been there and has consistently implemented a successful leadership strategy and who will mentor you as you advance your career.  

Finding a mentor you trust for advice that will positively impact your career is a great way to become an exceptional leader.  

Communicate realistic and clear expectations  

Effective communication is a crucial leadership development tip to be an exceptional leader. You achieve exceptional leadership when you can communicate your vision to your team, and it inspires them to work towards the team’s success.  

Exceptional leaders provide clear goals they want to achieve, expectations of what happens when the goals are not met and the strategy for achieving those goals.  

Exceptional leaders also analyse every factor that goes into achieving the goals and ensure they are attainable. When team members encounter failure repeatedly, their morale decreases, but recognising them when they achieve goals and providing constructive criticism encourages them to work hard.  

Be a model for embracing change.  

The best leaders can falter in times of change. A recent study of 1,000 senior executives revealed that managing change and innovation was the biggest issue for C-suite executives.  

Therefore, mastering the art of leading through change is a critical development tip for leaders, whether introducing new rules and procedures, a new organisation model, or adjusting to a new management style.   

Exceptional leaders provide an example of how to respond to change constructively and professionally. Our Cracking the ‘Organisational Code’ deck prepares future leaders in this critical field of leadership.  

Incorporate a shared vision  

The best generals never worry about their soldiers following them when it’s time for a battle because they ensure the clarity of purpose and what is at stake.  

Similarly, as an exceptional leader with vision, you should follow suit. Your team members need to understand the importance of what they do. When involved in the decision-making process, they understand its purpose and are more likely to support the organisation’s goals. In other words, your team members will support the shared vision and goals. As a result, developing your leadership skills will help bring unity around a shared vision.  

Learn how to handle failure  

Failure is an inevitable part of life. However, as a leader, the way you manage it sends a strong message to your team. Passing the blame and getting angry is often counter-productive. Instead, analyse and discuss with your team to find out what went wrong and what they can do differently to ensure success. It is important to accept responsibility for your role in not achieving the goals, hold your team members accountable when necessary and identify areas to improve on as a group.  

Offer Rewards and Recognition  

As an exceptional leader, you must understand that one of the best ways to make your team feel valued and content is by offering effective recognition and rewards.  

An HBR research shows that 40% of employees will work harder if their leaders recognise them more. Employees want to feel important to the organisation, so a small act of employee recognition may go a long way. By doing so, you ensure your team perform better.  

Avoid common leadership pitfalls.  

Although everyone makes mistakes, some of them are avoidable. Awareness of common leadership pitfalls can be the first step in preventing you from making them again.  

Ability to delegate.  

If you want to do a few small things right, do them yourself. If you want to do great things and make a big impact, learn to delegate. – John C. Maxwell  

As a leader, to stay focused on your vision, it is critical to be able to delegate tasks. Delegation also empowers your team members to take on more significant responsibilities, showing them that you trust them and their work. Delegating tasks will motivate them to perform better and produce high-quality results.  

Exceptional leaders delegate tasks and goals to their teams based on their strengths.  

Demonstrate integrity  

Having integrity helps exceptional leaders gain their colleagues’ and team members’ trust and respect. To help you become an exceptional leader, you need to remember that the core of integrity is truthfulness.  

As an exceptional leader, you should base your decisions on the interests of your team; they see you as an example and aspire to replicate your accomplishments. In addition, they should constantly be aware of your moral stand.  

Conflict management style  

Knowing the right way to resolve conflicts is a vital development tip for exceptional leaders relating to their colleagues and teams. Doing this is essential to develop a healthy working relationship and to keep an engaged work environment.   

Cracking the Conflict Management Code deck categorise five (5) conflict management style and explains which of them exceptional leaders should regularly employ to get the best decision for all parties involved.  

An exceptional leader is willing to learn where, when and how to use each style.  

Ready to be an exceptional leader?  

Being an exceptional leader is not about getting compliance or giving orders. Instead, building a solid culture helps your team grow and fulfil its true potential.   

Taking the leadership development tips mentioned above as a guide will ensure you’re on your way to becoming an exceptional leader.  

At Workforce Learning, our leadership development programmes are specifically built to help you reach your maximum potential by impacting you with strategies to be an exceptional leader. We can help you design your leadership programmes and create the right leadership development plan for your organisation.  

Ready to get started? Please send us a mail here;  

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