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3 Key Elements to Being a Memorable Leader

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Know Your Vision, Communicate It and Live It

A Harvard Business School professor once said, “The only thing a CEO needs to do is communicate his vision, communicate his vision, and then communicate his vision.” Why is communicating the vision so important? Because if you don’t know where you’re going and tell others where you’re going, then you and everyone around you are going to lose the way.

With all the things employees have going on in their lives, they’re distracted during some of the week, so it’s easy for them to get off track. Memorable leaders keep communicating the vision so everyone is always on the same page.

Living your vision and your company’s core values means everyone—those you report to and those who report to you—knows the vision as well. If you don’t understand your company’s vision or core values, have a conversation with your boss about them. Without vision and values, both companies and people lose their way. People are floundering, no one knows what they should be doing and people hide their potential talent. Not a good situation for sure!

For example, in a manufacturing company, getting the product out on time isn’t a core value and has nothing to do with the company’s vision. To have a healthy and synergistic team, people need to connect to something bigger than a goal of moving product. Vision and values make the difference.

Also, realize that communicating a vision doesn’t mean the leader needs to be talkative. Many memorable leaders are quiet and reserved, such as presidents Truman and Eisenhower. People follow memorable leaders because they exemplify their vision, not just tout it.

Be Teachable

Being open to learning new things and admitting your limitations and struggles gives you power; it’s not a weakness. Realize that people don’t want to think they’re following a robot. They want to know that the person they’re following is real.

Memorable leaders teach other leaders and are interested in the development of people beneath them. That’s why you need to be in touch with your direct reports and learn their dreams, goals and career aspirations. As the old quote says, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” So the “teachable” part goes in two directions: You have to be willing to learn yourself and willing to teach others.

Finally, Peter Drucker, the father of modern management, once said, “Leaders are readers.” That means it’s important you know what’s going on in all industries, not just your own. Staying too focused on one viewpoint of issues makes you one-dimensional. Creativity comes from combining what you know with what other leaders know and then adapting it to your own industry to improve or innovate. That’s why “overview” publications like Harvard Business Review, Forbes and Inc. are favorites of memorable leaders.

While few people are natural born leaders, you can learn to be a memorable leader and have people lining up, asking to work for you. All it takes is a commitment to lead others in a way that reflects your deepest held values, embraces your vision and encourages lifelong learning. The more you commit to practicing and living these three keys, the more memorable you’ll be.

Jean Kelley, author and entrepreneur, is the managing director of Jean Kelley Leadership Alliance, whose faculty and trainers have helped more than 750,000 leaders and high potentials up their game at work in the United States and in Canada. For information on keynotes, in-house programs or customized training, e-mail; visit

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