Published September 25, 2019

If you are a manager and if you were to make a list of the qualities you would like your staff to have, what would this list look like? Here are some ideas (and a question to ponder at the end)…

Since this blog is about leadership, we naturally mostly focus on leaders and managers on different levels, on important leadership qualities and how to improve these. In short, everything concerning with how to be a good leader and manager.

Today we will make an exception and examine what qualities are important for our employees. By this we do not mean the obvious knowledge and trade skills you need to do your job, but the more personal qualities.

On the World Economic Forum website, Travis Bradberry, author of several renowned books on leadership and emotional intelligence (EQ) and writer for numerous international magazines and journals, recently shared his thoughts on how an exceptional employee thinks and behaves. Here is his list:

Exceptional employees do not require immediate rewards. They do not expect immediate recognition when they have done something well. They trust it will happen sooner or later. They also do not mind taking on tasks that might fall outside of their responsibilities if they see this will benefit the company.

• They are not afraid of conflicts. Of course they do not seek conflicts, but should one arise, they do not run away. Instead they are able to calmly express their views on the matter and do not meet potential personal attacks with anger or aggression. Instead they do everything they can to solve the conflict.

• They can focus on what is important. They do not become distracted, neither by internal petty quarrelling or challenging clients. They understand the difference between real problems (that need to be solved) and those which can be put down to “small irritants” (which you can stay out of).

• They are brave. Exceptional employees dare speak up when others remain quiet and dare ask questions if there is something they do not understand. They do not hesitate to question decisions from their managers if necessary, but always do it with careful consideration and at the appropriate time.

• They can control their egos. Naturally, exceptional employees also want to appear wise and knowledgeable, but they also know when to be quiet. They dare admit to sometimes making mistakes and do not mind doing something the way someone else has suggested it, if this feels better or simply to keep the team happy.

• They are never really satisfied. When something has gone really well, they are happy to celebrate and give themselves a pat on the back, but it will not be long before they feel that “perhaps this could be done even better?”. An exceptional employee never stops trying to grow, find new ways and evolve.

• They quickly recognise a problem and make sure to fix it. When something goes wrong, they do not throw their arms in the air with a “oh, but this always happens”. Instead they immediately try to find a solution. For an exceptional employee, a problem is just a smaller or larger obstacle on the road to success and one which should be fixed and flattened…

• They take responsibiltiy. An exceptional employee never says “it wasn’t me” or “that’s not my fault” when something goes wrong. They feel responsible for their tasks, their decisions and their results – good or bad. They do not try to hide their mistakes and hope no one will spot them. Instead they own what they have done, convinced that mistakes are inevitable and that there is a lot we can learn from them.

• They are respected and well liked. At work, they show integrity and easily get their colleagues on board. Externally, toward clients and partners, they know how to represent their companies in the best possible way and create a positive company image.

So these are some of Travis Bradberry’s conclusions about the qualities of an exceptional employee. But one questions that strikes us, and perhaps you too, is this:

Is this not also exactly what we want from an exceptional manager?

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