5 Things Remarkable Leaders Do to Succeed

Remarkable leaders have a vision and are able to use strong critical thinking skills to influence and bring about positive change. They are successful change managers and innovators who are able to generate success by building strong team performance.

Strategic Planning

“A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.”

– Lao Tzu (Chinese Taoist Philosopher, founder of Taoism, “Tao Te Ching” (also “The Book of the Way”). 600 BC-531 BC

Remarkable leaders have a vision. They share this vision with their leadership team, then they work with this team create a Mission. This Mission becomes the basis for how the organization will function; it is future focused, inspirational and will provide clear decision-making criteria. It is timeless; a dynamic, living description that enables everybody within the organization to focus their efforts in a supportive manner. By internalizing its meaning, all employees will more likely choose behaviour that upholds the organization’s values and reject behaviour that opposes them.

Remarkable leaders will then work with their leadership team to develop a strategic plan that will focus the organization’s efforts over the next couple of years; identifying the opportunities as well as the current and future issues, challenges and problems that the organization may have to address. Through strategic planning, the management team will develop the strategies required to realize these opportunities and overcome obstacles to success. They will create short and long term actions to ensure these strategies will be successfully reached. They will plan for and create short-term wins.


“A good leader inspires people to have confidence in the leader; a great leader inspires people to have confidence in themselves.”

– Eleanor Roosevelt

One of the great strengths of remarkable leaders is their ability to use influence and critical thinking skills to bring about positive change. They recognize that their organization’s future may depend upon the right decisions being made today. They understand that knowledge of these trends will help their organization stay ahead of their competitors and therefore help contribute to the organization’s future success. Leadership is not about personality. It is how about how leaders manage themselves, their people, their peers and their management. It is about their behaviours. This is how remarkable leaders inspire – through their behaviours.

Manage Change

“Your success in life isn’t based on your ability to simply change. It is based on your ability to change faster than your competition, customers and business.”

– Mark Sanborn

Remarkable leaders manage change that is an outcome of driving the organization’s mission and strategies. They make sure to engage all employees in creating the change. They honour the past, but then help everyone to move forward, understanding the opportunities and the changes required to reach these. They assess potential risks to the required changes and generate plans to overcome these. They stir up a sense of urgency among employees in order to generate the motivation to spur change within the organization. They form a powerful guiding coalition among the leadership team to manage the on-going required change.


“Innovation comes from people meeting up in the hallways or calling each other at 10:30 at night with a new idea, or because they realized something that shoots holes in how we’ve been thinking about a problem.”

– Steve Jobs

Remarkable leaders build a strong culture of innovation in their organizations and demonstrate their commitment to innovation by recognizing that innovation is a long, not short-term initiative. This is because they know that the most important key driver for innovation today is when at least 75% of the leadership is honestly convinced that business as usual is no longer acceptable. They measure their leadership team’s performance on the basis of each leader’s ability to create new value-added products, services and ideas. As well, they assess the extent to which these leaders undertake this jointly with staff, rather than independent of their staff, because this demonstrates a clearer understanding of the use of an innovation process versus simply the result of a leader’s directive.
Remarkable leaders demonstrate their commitment to innovation in their regular department meetings by focussing on the exploration of new ideas. They train their employees in the innovation process. They allow time for employees to explore their ideas. They apply an aggressive effort to build new opportunities based on the development of new services, products and processes.

Build Team Performance

”When a team outgrows individual performance and learns team confidence, excellence becomes a reality.”

– Joe Patermo

Individual performance is important but remarkable leaders manage success through their leadership team. We grew up thinking that individual importance and competition was a key to success, but remarkable leaders build great leadership performance through the collective knowledge and experiences of their team – not just the individuals. This means bringing together all of the team’s strengths and weaknesses to create new directions for the organization.

Michael Stanleigh

Michael Stanleigh, CMC, CSP, CSM is the CEO of Business Improvement Architects. He works with leaders and their teams around the world to improve organizational performance by helping them to define their strategic direction, increase leadership performance, create cultures that drive innovation and improve project and quality management. Michael’s experience spans public and private sector organizations in over 20 different countries. He also delivers presentations to businesses and conferences throughout the world. In addition to his consulting practice and global speaking he has been featured and published in over 500 different magazines and industry publications.

For more information about this article you may contact Michael Stanleigh at mstanleigh@bia.ca