There are many attributes that define who and what quintessential leaders are – and what sets them apart from everyone else – but these seven are always present, no matter what.

  1. Quintessential leaders fall down really hard, at times, and may look like they’re down for the count because of how hard and how far they fell, but eventually, they always get back up. Always. Quitting is not an option.
  2. Quintessential leaders willingly, and usually, quickly admit when they’ve failed, either by being wrong, by making mistakes, or by hurting other people. There is an almost-immediate conscience prick when a quintessential leader realizes he or she has messed up. And there’s an almost-immediately simultaneous plan they employ to admit it and remedy it.
  3. quintessential leader compassQuintessential leaders, when admitting and remedying failures, mistakes, and hurts they’ve caused, do the repairs not just collectively, but individually as well. It’s important to quintessential leaders to know that the relationship with each individual affected by the failure, mistake, or hurt has been restored. This is a deeply personal process accompanied by deliberate thought and precise words that unfolds over time – a short reflective period consisting of days, not months and years or never – and is communicated with sincerity and humility.
  4. Quintessential leaders are never afraid to apologize.
  5. Quintessential leaders are never afraid to take a “time out” to regroup and get back on track.
  6. Quintessential leaders show, instead of talk about, change.
  7. Quintessential leaders, in the big pictures of their lives (despite derailments from time to time), constantly work to build trust and be trustworthy.

Becoming a quintessential leader is a process that is on-going throughout our lives. It can look messy at times, but life is messy at times. The difference between quintessential leaders and everyone else is that quintessential leaders don’t let the messiness get messier, but get it cleaned up quickly, learning along the way important lessons to try to prevent future messes of the same content and nature.

What attributes of quintessential leadership would you add to this list?

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