4 Traits and a Little Eccentricity Makes a Leader

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Apr 25, 2018

Speed and conviction, relentless reliability, relationship master, and adaptability to change.

Do any of these traits sound familiar?

According to ghSmart’s CEO Genome Project, these are the four attributes of CEOs and leaders. The 10-year study of 17,000 C-suite executives and over 2,000 CEOs showed successful leaders come in all shapes and sizes. In fact, of those surveyed, only 7% went to an elite school and 8% didn’t graduate college at all. Many fought their way up the ladder from entry-level positions, and some are immigrants.

No matter where their leadership journeys began, each possessed the above four qualities. However, there’s one other critical element you need as a leader: uniqueness.

Every wildly-successful leader has their own oddball trait. Knowing how to apply other leaders’ quirks — and discovering your own — to your workplace culture is what makes you stand out above the rest.

Jeff Bezos uses a door as a desk

The fearless CEO of Amazon recently became the richest man in the world. With a current net worth of $126.5 billion, he’s constantly moving forward with speed and conviction. But Bezos refuses to forget his humble beginnings.

In 1994, when Amazon was born as an online book-selling company, Bezos wasn’t operating with millions of dollars. In fact, rather than taking trips on private jets and staying in lavish mansions, he was constructing desks for his employees. Using doors with four-by-fours as legs, he found a thrifty solution for his team’s needs.

Today, at Amazon’s headquarters, Bezos uses an updated version of the same desk. He keeps it to create a workplace culture revolving around value for business. “It’s a symbol of spending money on things that matter to customers and not spending money on things that don’t,” Bezos explained in a “60 Minutes” interview.

Don’t keep your past to yourself. Use it to instill your company’s values and mission. Encourage employees to also share their stories of success and failure. Opening up to one another creates room for improved teamwork and customer service.

Elon Musk sleeps on the floor

Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, had a tough journey to success. The brilliant entrepreneur frequently opens up about his experiences with childhood bullying. Obviously, Musk didn’t let his bullies hold him back.

With a multitude of business ideas and ambitions, it seems Musk doesn’t have much time for sleep. When he does eventually does bed down these days, it’s as often on the factory floor as in a bedroom. He’s dedicated to taking his “desk” wherever he’s needed. Sometimes this includes keeping late hours and sleeping on the plant’s floor. This is a picture-perfect example of relentless reliability.

Musk expects this level of reliability from everyone on his team. At Tesla, if you’re not up for the workplace culture of dedication, you’re out.

Lead by example for your own employees. Show what you expect from them through your own actions. Like Musk, if you expect them to stay until the work is done, stay by their side.

Warren Buffett and his retro flip phone

We’re all admittedly glued to our smartphones. Our entire lives fit onto one screen, and disconnecting isn’t easy. Warren Buffett doesn’t have this issue, though. The multi-billionaire chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway recently showed off his retro Samsung flip phone on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” His shutout of Apple’s iPhone isn’t ending anytime soon.

“When I actually buy it, it’s all over, folks. The last person has bought it,” Buffett teased in his interview.

Even though he jokes, Buffett’s stubbornness makes him a relationship master. Holding onto his flip phone promotes a workplace culture of staying in the moment. Buffett’s example proves decreased distractions leads to less multi-tasking and more accomplishments.

Of course, you shouldn’t suggest employees throw their smartphones in the trash. When in a meeting, offer team members your entire focus. Leaving your phone in your office shows employees they’re the main priority in that moment. This results in a happier and highly-motivated workforce.

Arianna Huffington has a love affair with sleep

Adapting to change requires thinking on your feet. Arianna Huffington, author and former co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, refuses to do it without sleep.

In her latest book, The Sleep Revolution, Huffington shares a story about waking up in a pool of her own blood after returning from a long trip and collapsing. This is the moment she realized her relationship with sleep needed adjusting.

It’s crucial for your employees’ health and productivity that you create a workplace culture that values sleep. Start by improving your own habits. Refrain from sending late night emails so employees don’t feel encouraged to keep up with your pace.

Put your smartphone down, and take advantage of your newly-opened free time. Schedule a time to start winding down and adhere to a strict bedtime to help get a healthy night’s sleep.