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Great leadership is indeed a difficult thing to pin down and understand. You know a great leader when you’re working for one, but even they can have a hard time explaining the specifics of what they do that makes their leadership so effective. Great leadership is dynamic; it combines a variety of unique skills. Below are 6 unique traits of leaders, which you can follow to help you become a better leader.

1. They are not afraid to fail

Failure can work powerfully in either one of two ways: it can be the greatest teacher and motivator for future success, or it can keep you from ever taking a risk again. Great leaders know this well, and they’ve learned to use failure as a stepping stone to success. The ability to effectively cope with losing, failing and not getting what you want is an important quality for anyone to cultivate in order to achieve success and well-being – but for leaders, it’s essential.


2. They have a strong sense of purpose

Purpose drives the greatest leaders to create a meaningful product or accomplish a goal that transcends the company’s bottom line, giving their company more that just a mission. In doing so, they inspire their employees to work to their highest potential to fulfill their larger vision. Steve Jobs believed that “those people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who actually do.”


3. They understand the need to unwind

Highly successful leaders all insist on taking regular vacations. Great leaders have ambitious goals, and they work hard to achieve them. But they also know that workaholism and burnout won’t get them very far, so they take time to rest and recharge in order to boost their creativity and mental sharpness. Whether it’s a daily yoga practice, no-tech Saturdays, or twice-annual vacation, taking regular personal time keeps leaders mentally sharp and ready to take on new challenges.


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4. They are extremely good listeners

Paying attention to people might not sound too difficult, but consider how often we actually do this. Technology has contributed to a decline of eye contact, and multitasking has become so much the norm that we often check our e-mail or text while conversing with others. Even when we’re not multitasking, research suggests that we only give people roughly a third of our attention — but a great leader knows that everyone they work with deserves more than that.


5. They seek new experiences that lead to new thinking

In a competitive and rapidly changing world, creativity is an increasingly important quality for leaders to cultivate to keep their businesses or ventures ahead of the curve. A creative leader is one who keeps an open mind. Leaders need to have a flexible and fluid mindset to adapt to changes and new challenges, which is fostered by being open to new perspectives and ways of doing things. Openness to experience is the personality trait most associated with creative achievement.


6. They believe in the power of empathy

A leader who displays empathy is better equipped to connect with others and understand their perspectives. Leaders who are kind and empathetic; who truly care about the people who work for them are some of the most effective managers out there, inspiring others and naturally drawing people to their side. True empathy combines understanding of both the emotional and the logical rationale that goes into every decision.