8 Traits of Successful & Happy Leaders

8 Traits of Successful & Happy Leaders

Over the course of the last 15 years, I’ve worked with hundreds of successful leaders and interviewed thousands of executives for leadership positions in government. The people who resonate with me and my clients most are those who are both successful and happy. These people figured out how to be the most effective at the helm of their careers and in managing their personal lives. What do they all have in common?

Here are the eight common traits I have consistently observed in this group of people:

  1. Always stepping out of their comfort zone. As a means to constantly develop more confidence, they are constantly learning new things and taking on new challenges. Their desire to push their own boundaries inspires others around them to do the same.

2. Work super smart (and hard). Emphasis on “smart” meaning their time is thoughtfully invested in the things that they absolutely have to be doing and no one else can do. These are often considered the highest level income generating activities in the business world and high level policy and strategic work in the public sector. Working smart often entails structure which keeps them focused and disciplined about the highest and best use of their time.

3. Learning never stops. An intense hunger for knowledge and information excites them, fuels their passion and humbles them because they can never know enough. They are fascinated by what they don’t know.

4. Constant quest for improvement.  The ongoing pursuit of making something or someone better, stronger or more efficient energizes the mind and satisfies the heart. This applies to their personal life as much as it does their business.

5. They are present and get the most out of each moment. I’ve noticed that those who are more present also tend to be mindful and grateful. This mindset actually also helps them to be great visionaries. They respect and learn from the past rather than get hung up on it.

6. Recognize the importance of compound decision making. Success in anything is manifested from a series of smaller decisions. In order to avoid becoming overwhelmed or actions that don’t advance personal and/or organizational goals, they remember that it’s the little decisions that cumulatively lead to major achievements and help to keep the spark in their momentum.

7. Practice good self-care. What we entrepreneurs are often bad at and it’s the one area that could likely help us (and those around us!) the most. It turns out that this special population insists upon making room in their schedule to care for themselves and view this as a non-negotiable priority if they are to achieve and sustain peak performance. Beyond basic exercise, many of them also make room for meditation and/or designated time and space to think, create and innovate.

8. Integration of professional and personal life. In this 24/7 all-access tech oriented culture we have become accustomed to, they accept that that their professional life will sometimes bleed into their personal space and they are okay with it. Releasing the expectation of always having bright lines between personal and professional reduces the stress and helps manage the expectations of those around them. By structuring a healthy level of integration between the two in ways that work for them, having a bit of “grey area” in their boundaries actually reduces stress and allows them to participate deeper in all areas.

Permission to reprint granted so long as article is published in its entirety and author is credited with the following:

Teri Black, President/CEO of Teri Black & Company, LLC, aLos Angeles-based executive search firm dedicated to serving the public sector.

Teri Black is a lifelong student of high performance and success and is President/CEO of a Los Angeles-based executive search firm dedicated to serving the public sector.  Teri Black & Company, LLC has recruited hundreds of local government executives for communities across the western United States.

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