Attributes of High-Performing Employees, Executives and Leaders

I wish I had a dollar for every time one of my Vistage members says that “good employees are hard to find.” It’s easy to know when you do have one. They consistently exceed expectations and work well with others. But, what exactly makes a high-performing employee? Not surprisingly, the same traits also make high-performing executives and leaders. Here is a list of some of those traits that I have gathered from various sources:


Chipotle seeks out candidates for all jobs who are:

  1. Conscientious
  2. Respectful
  3. Hospitable
  4. High energy
  5. Infectiously enthusiastic
  6. Happy
  7. Presentable
  8. Smart
  9. Polite
  10. Motivated
  11. Ambitious
  12. Curious
  13. Honest

Traits of high-performers from other sources:

  • Shares good and bad news so that there are no surprises, ever.
  • Is prepared
  • Takes his/her job seriously
  • Desire to make his/her boss successful
  • Provides solutions, not complaints
  • Communicates in plain language
  • Takes ownership of his/her work
  • Is a pleasure to be around
  • Has the ability to work on a team
  • Is accountableshutterstock_110688164
  • Is proactive
  • Has high emotional intelligence
  • Has the ability to learn and apply knowledge quickly
  • Thinks creatively
  • Is honest and has high integrity
  • Is flexible
  • Is passionate about his/her work
  • Is confident
  • Receives feedback well
  • Manages time and priorities wisely

Additional traits for high-performing Executives:

  • Able to motivate and lead others
  • Manages change
  • Able to identify and develop talent
  • Thinks innovatively
  • Performs consistently at a high level

…and for all Leaders:

  • Adapts to change
  • Thinks strategically
  • Has integrity
  • Communicates clearly
  • Is trustworthy and open
  • Develops and fosters diverse teams
  • Delegates
  • Has a positive mind-set
  • Has high self-awareness
  • Has the ability to handle complex projects
  • Has a vision and can execute it

Successful businesses require high-performers. Make sure that you’re one, too, and learn to recognize and foster the necessary traits in your own employees.

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