The DNA of an extraordinary leader

DNA is the genetic material in our bodies and nearly every cell has the same form of it. However it’s the sequence of how that material comes together which determines how the body is uniquely built and performs. Leadership is no different than DNA.

Like DNA, leadership is comprised of many qualities. How those qualities are arranged, and more importantly applied, makes all the difference. We all have the potential to be leaders and everyone has the opportunity to be extraordinary. How we apply ourselves determines whether we tap into that potential for extra-ordinary.

Understanding the DNA of an extraordinary leader does not need to be a complicated science. Below are several ‘simple truth’ concepts that describe an extraordinary leader. I am so passionate about these ideas that I designed keynote presentations around each topic for fraternity and sorority leaders, for new students during orientation, and for students engaged across campus. Remember though, it’s not what you know, it’s what you apply. Apply these concepts below and watch your leadership effectiveness exponentially grow.

1. Extraordinary leaders proudly think different. I’ve never met a successful person who thought like everyone else. Extraordinary leaders look at failure and mistakes as teachable moments. They learn from setbacks and find ways to make those experiences “step ups” for success. The more you take risk, the more you learn and grow.

2. Extraordinary leaders are passionate. I believe passion is the source of leadership. It’s my favorite leadership concept to talk about. You cannot inspire others unless you know what inspires you. When you are passionate about something, it will not only show and magnetically attract others around you, but it will also fuel you to never quit. You’ll enthusiastically persist and do things other people won’t.

This short video from Steve Jobs sums it up nicely and is something I show in every presentation to anchor the importance about passion. People will notice your passionate energy and determination more than anything else.

3. Extraordinary leaders have a vision for what they want to accomplish. As a teenager, I had a vision of being on the game show The Price is Right. While many people, including my mother, laughed at me and thought my vision was ridiculous, meeting Bob Barker and being on the show was my vision. I didn’t know the strategy for being on the show at first, but I eventually figured it out … and I won. Watch me living the dream.

Extraordinary leaders with a vision do not wait around. They take action to find the strategy. Identifying and figuring out a strategy could be in the form of finding a mentor, asking questions (and lots of them), getting training, and learning more about the topic, etc.

4. Extraordinary leaders communicate effectively. They know how to communicate and share their vision and purpose with others. Rather than doing everything themselves, they take time to help others understand the objective and how to obtain it. They do not take long walks by themselves; rather, they bring others along. They delegate and empower others by communicating the what, why, how, and where. Then they ask, “How can I help?”

The DNA of an extraordinary leader is comprised of many qualities and it doesn’t have to be complicated. Just remember that it isn’t what we know, it’s what we apply.

An important property of DNA is that it can replicate itself. Would you want your leadership to be replicated?

Credit // Author: Dr. Kevin Snyder

Learn more about Kevin and his keynotes at You can also follow him on Twitter at @KevinCSnyder.

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