We’ve all had colleagues or employees we would consider exceptional, with the little something extra that made them stand out from their peers. Over my 40 or so years in business, I’ve come to recognize and appreciate the characteristics that make these employees exceptional — characteristics that have helped guide me as I’ve grown our company into a thriving business. These are people who contribute not only to their own abundant life, but also to the lives of others.

Here are the top 12 characteristics that make these employees great:

1. Critical Thinkers and Problem-Solvers.

These employees are able to step back from emotional reaction, and put their minds to work to solve problems.

2. Fearless and Confident.

They choose to not allow fear to take over by consistently recognizing their unique value and strengths. They push to be honest with themselves and build never-ending self confidence.

3. Successful Sellers and Negotiators.

They are willing to commit 100 percent to their product or service, and truly listen to their customers to understand how to best serve them. They then take the results of their problem-solving and effectively sell them to co-workers, customers, and management.

4. Goal Setters.

They identify what’s most important and create a plan to achieve their goals. And, importantly, they hold themselves (and others) accountable for reaching those objectives. They live by the rule that goals are only as valuable as the efforts to achieve them.

5. Effective Time Managers.

Once spent, time can never be recovered. Exceptional employees have the ability to focus efforts only on the activities that will help move their company and co-workers forward.

6. Strong Communicators.

They are active listeners, articulate speakers and effective writers. These characteristics are all part of one big one: communication. No one is ever finished with developing their strength in communicating. I encourage my team to continuously drive themselves to improve at listening actively, speaking effectively, and writing articulately. Easier said than done, of course — it’s lifelong learning for just about everyone.

7. Likeable.

Exceptional employees are friendly, open and interested in getting to know new people. They’re approachable and look for the good in everyone.

8. Entrepreneurial, Innovative, and Self-motivated.

These three characteristics go hand-in-hand. I love employees who think innovatively, bring new ideas to the table, and then execute on the ideas without requiring guidance or direction — not that there’s anything wrong with requesting guidance!

9. Disciplined.

They consciously train their mind and body to unconsciously act in harmony with their values and vision.

10. Resilient.

They have the ability to take negative experiences in life and turn them into positive outcomes. As has been the case for me, some of their most positive qualities and capabilities have come as a result of their biggest failures.

11. Grateful.

They have an attitude of gratitude and an abundance mentality. They’re willing to consciously recognize the many things for which they are grateful. Whether it’s having a wonderfully supportive spouse and family or a smart and respectful boss, gratitude is the foundation of an abundance mentality.

12. Responsible and Accountable.

They hold themselves accountable first, without resorting to blaming others for mistakes or failures. They make a conscious effort to learn from both their successes and failures.

There they are. The continuous assessment of these 12 characteristics of exceptional employees has been a core activity in my own life. They’ve helped propel my career, acted as a guide as we’ve grown our company and have been critically important for our employees as we’ve served thousands of clients.

As you’re looking to hire new employees, keep an eye out for these important characteristics. No one is perfect, so don’t eliminate a potential employee simply because one or two of these 12 characteristics might not be so obvious. But if the person exhibits a good number of these qualities, they’re bound to be the exceptional employee we all seek — and that’s the kind of employee who will help bring others up to their level.

Call To Action

Want to know more about how to live an abundant life? Click here to get a copy of my newest book, “Entitlement Abolition” for FREE (just pay shipping). Learn how to lead your family and your legacy from “me” to “we.”

Originally published at medium.com