10 Traits of an Executive Rock Star

By Melanie Wilt, Shift•ology

After working with five classes of Ohio AgriBusiness Association LAUNCH leaders (nearly 100 participants!), eight classes of AgriPOWER and various executive clients over the years, I’ve been able to observe some of the characteristics that distinguish an executive from a manager. Are you able to check off all 10 boxes?

1. Lifelong Learner – Great executive leaders don’t already know it all. They thirst for knowledge and new challenges.

2. Effective Communicator – Not only does the executive leader talk and present well, but he or she is skilled listener who can take in information from many different voices and perspectives, process it, and take action.

3. Critical Thinker – Not one to get paralysis by analysis, the executive leader delves into knowledge (see trait #1) and puts together seemingly disparate ideas. They don’t have lots of questions; they ask the right questions at the right times for the right reasons. They are able to solve problems, and bring the team together to find and recommend solutions.

4. Champion of the Team – He or she does not always stand on stage and receive the accolades, but the executive leader is the biggest fan of its team and players – on stage and behind closed doors.

5. Talent Searcher – I’ve noticed a distinct difference in rock star executives in that they are never afraid to be outshone by their employees. Instead, they recognize the strengths and use them to build up the individual and the team. If something goes wrong, the executive takes the blame and guide the corrective action; If something goes right, they give the credit to the employee!

6. Humility – I almost called this trait “confidence” but instead went with humility, which I would define as something like “humble confidence.” This trait tends to be rooted in faith – usually in a higher power, self or belief in the work itself. This person is the opposite of arrogant.

7. Neither Hands-off or Hands-on – Some of the best executives I’ve witnessed are skilled at providing clear direction and empowering their team members to take charge and celebrate results. By setting expectations and being available when needed,  the executives set up their team for success.

8. Balanced Life – While executives must invest many hours in their work, the best ones also enjoy their lives outside of the office with their families and friends. I mean, really, who wants to work with somebody boring who never has a good story to share?

9. Focus – The ability to say no or turn off disruptions in order to accomplish a task. Great executives know that multi-tasking is a myth.

10. No Excuses – We’ve all heard the expression, “Excuses are like ________. Everybody has one.” But, nobody wants to hear them! Rock stars don’t make excuses, they work towards goals and manage expectations – that way an excuse is never necessary.