We’ve all seen lists of attributes, characteristics or qualities of excellent leaders. Some a very well known and have been repeated over and over. Others are lesser-known. Ron Edmondson shares 5 of the lesser-known traits of effective leadership.

Originally published by Ron Edmondson

Stretching – And I don’t mean exercise, although that’s not a bad one to mention either. Good leaders stretch people’s abilities and the paradigms. That’s because leadership is all about going somewhere new – somewhere people have never been previously. I always like to say we don’t need leaders to help us maintain. Leaders stretch.

I have had a few leaders in my life who stretched me outside my comfort zone to the point at times their actions felt cruel. And some people can be cruel. But these leaders weren’t being cruel. They saw potential in me that I couldn’t yet see. So, they helped me stretch to get there. Looking back now, I would not be the leader I am without their stretching.

Who are you stretching – in an effective way – on your team?

Experimenting – Successful leaders love to explore – and they encourage people around them to do likewise. They welcome innovative ideas – even those that may seem far-fetched at the time. They aren’t afraid to fail because they know failure often leads to discovery.

I heard recently that a phenomenally successful company likes to have 1,000 “experiments” going on at any one time knowing that only a few may become realities. Most of us can’t accommodate that in our size organizations.

But how many experiments could we have going? More importantly, do people on your team feel the freedom to experiment?

Celebrating – Great leaders celebrate with their team. They are natural encouragers. In fact, cheerleaders might make great leaders.

As previously stated, leadership is about going somewhere . It’s about discovering “next” and “new.” But people need to know they are accomplishing something today. They need to know they are currently adding value to the team. Current success needs to be recognized, applauded, and rewarded.

Do the people you lead feel you take time to properly celebrate? A better question: Do they feel valued and appreciated for who they are TODAY?

Questioning – I’ve said it so many times, but it is so true. The best leaders ask the best questions. You often don’t know simply because you haven’t asked. There is a challenge to status quo in healthy organizations and that often begins with good questions.

For example, whenever a leader comes to me with a dilemma or problem they are working through I find myself saying the same line. “Maybe you need to be asking a bigger question.” Sometimes a minor or even major problem is the result of something bigger. And you won’t solve the problem at hand until you address the bigger question.

What are some questions you could or should be asking in your organization?

Relating  – Goals are more easily achieved by the organization when the leader brings together the right different people. Great leaders recognize and appreciate that everyone is not like them. Therefore, they embrace diversity of thought. Many times, problems are solved, or an opportunity seized because the right mix of people were at the table of discovery.

This is why I am a fan of ignoring org charts whenever possible. I realize people need to know to whom they report, and people need accountability and structure. (Believe me – I get that.) But often you miss some of the organizations best because you structure out unique voices – simply because they don’t appear in the right slots on a piece of paper or hold the proper title.

True story. Some of my best learnings in the organization often come from people whose primary job is to clean the building. They always see and know things I will never know without their input. (It’s just a matter of getting to know them and asking questions.)

Who in your organization is “unknown”? Could they be a missing piece to your future success?

I’m sure there are more of these lesser-known traits of effective leadership. So, I’m asking you. Think with me. What would you add to my list?