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What differentiates an exceptional boss from the rest

This column is part of Globe Careers' Leadership Lab series, where executives and experts share their views and advice about leadership and management. Follow us at @Globe_Careers. Find all Leadership Lab stories at

We are besieged with mountains of advice on how to be a good leader who practices the craft according to principles espoused by the crowd of academics, consultants and other self-proclaimed experts.

Whereas guidance from pundits can be useful, it stops short of enabling someone to separate themselves from the herd to become a memorable leader different than others.

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Contemporary leadership dogma does nothing more than define the entry criteria for being in the game – the foundation for good leadership. Without this foundation, you are unlikely to achieve and hold a leadership position. With it, you are guaranteed nothing more than being commonplace.

Mind-blowing leaders don't practice the art of leadership the way other leaders do. They don't follow the generally accepted leadership rules.

They are contrarian thinkers, unique in their approach to attract followers.

Mind-blowers are not complex individuals; they look at their charge through a simple, uncomplicated lens.

Here are 16 of their secrets:

1. They like humans more than the theory of leadership.

2. They ask for help when they are in trouble.

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3. They say, "I'm sorry" when they screw up.

4. They smile and laugh a lot to break the seriousness of most workday moments.

5. They have an amazing memory for names of people and their special events.

6. They spend most of their day in the arms of front-liners, believing that without their passion and engagement, the strategy of the organization goes nowhere.

7. They keep promises. Period.

8. They are insane story tellers, using real-life events to emphasize what is important and expected behaviour.

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9. They lavish praise on others; they don't need it personally, and they don't want it.

10. They ask, "How can I help?" in the workplace. Serving others is their priority.

11. They are addicted to imperfection. They know that a perfect anything is a pipe dream and cannot be achieved.

12. They trust and believe that their employees show up to do their job, not mess up.

13. They connect the dots between the strategy of the organization and the role of each person in it.

14. They use monosyllable words; they find big words unhelpful in advancing their agenda.

15. They over-meet with customers; their calendar is left with little time to do much else.

16. They love jeans – anything to express informality.

Mind-blowing leaders do their thing to make organizational life better for others. The outcome is unmatched employee dedication and engagement and unmatched organizational performance.

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