Exceptional leaders often share common traits like charisma, confidence, and stability. But one characteristic that is often overlooked is resourcefulness. Recognizing and utilizing the resources around you can lead to a better product, happier customers, and a more positive work environment.

To affect change, leaders must learn to develop and utilize the tools around them.

The leaders on this list have identified and cultivated the assets around them. As you begin to think of your own resources, look at this list for some helpful examples.

Redefine What’s Possible

Soon after becoming Pontiff in 2013, Pope Francis made it clear that the Catholic Church was open to change in many ways. Pope Francis has proved those who thought the Catholic Church could not change wrong, and he did it by redefining what is possible.

Since taking over, Francis has broken with tradition by criticizing the greed of capitalism, endorsing Palestine’s right to statehood, and welcoming divorcees back into the Church. He has even signaled a new way of thinking on same sex couples.

At 77 years old, Pope Francis proves you’re never too old to bring about change.

Never Stop Innovating

Ford Motor Company recently announced a $7.4 billion dollar profit. What’s more, the company plans to spend a record share of that money with its employees. In fact, more than 52,000 workers will be getting $9,300 profit-sharing checks. Rewind seven years, and Ford was on the verge of bankruptcy.

What happened during that time? Ford innovated. Led by CEO Alan Mulally, Ford is developing new and existing technologies like 3D printing, virtual factories, and the Ford Fabrication Technology, to keep Ford relevant and moving forward in the twenty first century.

Nurture Your Human Network

Teach For America has grown to become one of the largest and most recognizable teacher-service organizations in the country, thanks in large part to founder Wendy Kopp. The idea for the program, which places leaders (who may not have planned to be teachers) in some of the poorest performing schools in the country.

Today, Teach For America comprises over 50,000 teachers, and is improving learning outcomes in many schools. To accomplish its goals, the program recruits heavily on elite college campuses and draws ideas from its massive alumni network.

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Care About Others

Successful leaders care about others, whether it’s their employees, clients, customers, or even adversaries. Oscar winning actress Angelina Jolie has blossomed into a humanitarian whose life goal is improving the livelihood of others, particularly the poorest among us.

While filming Tomb Raider in Cambodia, Jolie said her eyes were opened to the dire situation many face.

Since that time, she has become a United Nations goodwill ambassador, and regularly visits war-torn areas like Afghanistan, Darfur, Iraq, Libya, and Chad to provide much needed aid.

Have a Vision

When Amazon started in 1994, few could have predicted the company would grow into the largest internet-based retailer in the world. Jeff Bezos’ company started with book sales, but always aspired to more.

Now, the company has developed its own ecosystem with grocery delivery, streaming video and movies, and much more.

In addition to vision, Bezos emphasizes research, prioritization, and consistently articulating your vision.

Emphasize Specifics

While she may be less well known than other members of this list, Harvey Mudd College President Maria Klawe knows what it takes to be a leader. Fortune Magazine recently ranked Klawe at #17 on the list of the world’s greatest leaders.

During her tenure, Harvey Mudd College has improved and grown its computer science program dramatically – thanks in large part to increasing participation of women. In fact, over a six-year period, female computer science majors went from just 10% to 40%.

An Exercise

Leadership is a rigorous exercise that requires many traits for success, not the least of which is resourcefulness.

By recognizing the resources and strengths around you, you can grow your network, accelerate innovation, demonstrate a caring for others, and last but not least, redefine what others thought was impossible.

How Are Leaders Resourceful?

If you have ideas that you feel like sharing that might be helpful to readers, share them in the comments section below. Thanks!

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Morris Lilienthal
Morris Lilienthal is a shareholder with the personal injury law firm Martinson & Beason, P.C. He is AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell and has received the Alabama Super Lawyer Rising Star award. In addition to car accidents, he also assists clients with wrongful death, nursing home negligence, and products liability cases.