Sep. 27, 2016 by Josh Millsap, Senior Associate, Stantec

What Makes an Exceptional Leader?

As the next age of leaders develops and emerges in today’s business world, there is often a question of what constitutes a good or exceptional leader. In TREC’s Executive Leadership Council (ELC), our group delved into this question for six months. During our journey, we discussed personal strengths, emotional intelligence, conflict management and leading through change. It became evident that it is important to have a toolbox of different leadership skills and techniques, but they will never be effective if you cannot relate to your staff and team, fail to model sound moral character and stop learning.

Relate to your Team

An exceptional leader is one that can utilize their skills to relate to each member of your team on an individual basis. As different team members go through different seasons of life, you must work with team members who are new, experienced, going through personal struggles, and those who have endured difficulties in their career. Combine each of these scenarios with multiple personality types, and the ability to relate to each team member can become very difficult. As leaders begin to identify with team members and gain respect, you can begin to develop and grow individuals while also bringing them together to function as a team.

Model Good Moral Character

When it comes to relating to team members, an exceptional leader does not waiver from maintaining good moral character and honesty. At the end of the day, a leader must accept and live with the direction they led their team. While mistakes and bad judgement calls are inevitable, an honest leader with good character will recover and maintain the loyalty and respect of the overall team. Without a good solid model for moral character at the top of the company, there will never be any expectation or direction for how the rest of the team should treat each other or react in trying situations.

Never Stop Learning and Growing

As we develop as leaders, it is also important to always learn and hone your own skills. We are molded from our life experiences, obstacles and mentors. If we do not take advantage of every moment we go through, and reflect on the experiences and gain knowledge from them, we are missing out on prime opportunities to grow and make ourselves better. We cannot expect to be perfect and always handle each situation correctly. But if we do not grow and learn from these opportunities, then we are personally failing as leaders and guiding our team down the wrong path in both business and life.

Behind great businesses, teams and endeavors is a great leader. As we all travel through our careers and life, we should all take a moment and reflect as to what kind of leader we are and what kind of leader we aspire to be.

Josh Millsap, PE, is a Senior Associate at Stantec with a background in the design and permitting of private development projects. Prior to Stantec’s acquisition of Bury in March of 2016, Josh served as Bury’s Senior Vice President/Director of Operations. He is also a member of TREC’s Executive Leadership Council (ELC).