Five Traits of Extra Mile Leaders

Bob Kuechenberg, the former Miami Dolphins great, once explained what motivated him to go to college. “My father and uncle were human cannonballs in carnivals. My father told me, "go to college or be a cannonball." Then one day my uncle came out of the cannon, missed the net and hit the Ferris wheel, I decided to go to college.”

The way you tap into your motivation as a leader may not be as drastic for you as it was for Bob Kuechenberg, but tapping into it is necessary nonetheless. Going the extra mile as a leader is what will set you apart from the rest of the pack and will take you farther than you could have without it.

So what traits do “extra mile” leaders possess? Here is a sampling of a few that I believe are essential. It’s not an exhaustive list but is a good place to start.

Extra mile leaders are proactive

Extra mile leaders take the initiative in getting things done. They prefer to tackle issues head-on rather than assume a reactionary posture. Extra mile leaders are out front on understanding the culture of their organization and the needs of the people they serve. They don’t wait to be told or asked, they see what needs to be done and they do it.

Extra mile leaders possesses a contagious enthusiasm

What sets extra mile leaders apart from mediocre leaders-every time, is a passion and enthusiasm for what they do. Their attitudes are positive and their temperament is even-handed. An extra mile leader in your organization with enthusiasm and passion will be the benchmark for the rest of your team. Without extra mile leaders your work will be hard but with them your team can see extra-ordinary results. Extra mile leaders bring out the best in those they serve.

Extra mile leaders put the team first

Extra mile leaders by and large are selfless in that their motivation and their proactive ways are done with the intent of benefitting the team. Yes, there can be exceptions when what motivates an individual is selfish in nature. But by and large, extra mile leaders have a broad understanding of the mission and vision of the organization and their extra mile sacrifices are for the benefit of the group. Of course, it pays dividends in the long run as all hard work and effort does, but it’s not the prime motivation. Extra mile leaders put their colleagues first.

Extra mile leaders have an attitude of excellence

Extra mile leaders are not satisfied with the status quo nor do they settle for what is merely acceptable. Extra mile leaders have a compelling desire to be the best personally and professionally. At times it can be misinterpreted by those without the extra mile mentality as self-serving, grand-standing, or posturing, etc. but at their core, the extra mile leader cares deeply and truly wants to advance the team in the right direction.

Extra mile leaders have found their purpose

Extra mile leaders have not only tapped into their passion but have taken it a step further in discovering their purpose. Extra mile leaders intuitively understand that it’s not about what they “do” that defines them or motivates them to go the extra mile. Extra mile leaders are those who have embraced the blessing and gift of their Creator and have committed themselves to living their life in such a way that honors it.

Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard said, “There is nothing with which every man is so afraid as getting to know how enormously much he is capable of doing and becoming.”

What you are capable of becoming as an extra mile leader is realized when you worry less about what you do and care more for the life you have to live and the ways in which you can serve others. When you do, the results will speak for itself.

Are you an extra mile leader?

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