By Jenni Catron
The DNA of Extraordinary
Something about his leadership was different. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it at first. It was difficult to identify. I had worked for a number of other leaders. Some of them were good, really good. But something still set Greg apart. He was an extraordinary leader. President of a thriving division of a corporation that was number one in its industry, he was at the pinnacle of his career. He had every reason to be brash, arrogant, and demanding, but instead he was kind, humble, and generous. He was succeeding and he understood why. Greg knew that all his accomplishments weren’t possible without his team. He knew what many leaders miss: Leadership was not about him. It was about others. He understood that how he led others would affect the organization’s continued success or failure. He realized his leadership mattered, and he seized every moment to lead like an extraordinary leader.
You know them when you see them. Extraordinary leaders. They stand out. They get your attention. It’s not that they are always in the spotlight. That would be missing the point. Extraordinary leaders are faithfully leading in their places of influence, whether high profile or in seeming obscurity, but with such depth of purpose and sincere intentionality that has significant effects on those they lead.
Extraordinary leaders call others to their extraordinary best. They show up in all different types of settings. Like Greg, they can be seen in corporations. They show up in mom-and-pop businesses.
They might be beloved football coaches or drama instructors. Vocation is irrelevant. Well-stewarded influence is the essential differential.
By definition, extraordinary means, “Going beyond what is usual, regular, or customary. Exceptional to a very marked extent. Rare. Uncommon. Unique”
Every one of these words and phrases makes me exclaim, “Yes, I want to be that!” I want to lead, guide, and direct others in a way that is unusual, exceptional, rare, uncommon, and unique.
I’ve experienced many less-than-extraordinary leaders, though. Haven’t you? I’ve served under leaders who saw me only as a means to help them accomplish their goals. I’ve supported leaders who lacked the ability to make sound long-term decisions. I’ve been mistreated by seemingly soulless leaders who had little regard for the health of their staff. I’ve floundered under leaders who didn’t really know where they wanted to go or leaders who changed their vision with each passing fad or popular idea. We’ve all served under an ordinary leader. Ordinary leadership is just that, ordinary. It’s ordinary because it lacks purpose. It lacks a commitment to extraordinary. It lacks a passion to lead from a completely different paradigm.
What does extraordinary leadership look like? How do we become extraordinary leaders? What type of discipline is involved? What activities are necessary? What choices does one need to make? Why do people with great leadership instincts flounder?
These questions are difficult to sort out, and I know that it is a rare person who is a truly extraordinary leader. Great leadership is rare because it takes work. It takes intentionality. It requires sacrifice. It takes resolve. It involves heartaches, disappointments, and mistakes. It requires apologies. It entails a daily dose of humility. It means relentless growth and frequent failure.
Extraordinary leadership isn’t easy, but it is possible. And when it emerges, it leads others to accomplish extraordinary things too.
The is an excerpt from Jenni’s book The 4 Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership: The Power of Leading from Your Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength
Jenni Catron is a writer, speaker, and leadership coach. She is the author of several books including Clout: Discover and Unleash Your God-Given Influence and The 4 Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership.