Practicality isn’t a flashy trait, nor will it, in all likelihood, land you your next big promotion after mid-level management.

Why am I even bringing it up as a leadership topic?

Because this ground-level view of business provides a solid lifetime framework for building a stellar career as you take on more high-level responsibilities.

It is a characteristic that adds tangible, concrete value to your success. What makes up being practical from my point of view? You…

Are Self-Aware: You’re the exception to the rule of Tasha Eurich’s research, which determined that only 10 to 15 percent are self-aware. As a practical executive, you know better than to rely on your viewpoint entirely instead you:

  • Seek feedback from respected advisors,
  • Monitor closely any limiting response patterns,
  • Pay attention to how you impact others,
  • Move outside your comfort zone to nurture your strengths and enhance weaknesses as needed,
  • Keep a journal of outcomes contrary from intended as learning experiences.

Are Realistic: You look at what’s before you logically. The driver is “what’s next.” Not from a litany of finalizing projects willy-nilly but rather with the eyes of the most crucial for my company and—gasp, yes!—for my career advancement. You are a priority! You rarely work in the vacuum of mindlessly checking one item off your “to-do” list without considering the ultimate mission.

Are Persevering: You know what is required and make it happen no matter how chaotic and disruptive the environment around you is. Your focus is on steadily, consistently pressing forward. Barriers aren’t detrimental detainers. They’re merely puzzling challenges to overcome. Practical executives understand that miring yourself in hopeless emotions (fear, worry, helplessness, apathy, etc.) only bogs you down. You acknowledge what you’re feeling, then pick yourself up to uncover workable solutions because you can.

Are Flexible: Practical executives figure out ways of making everything operate smoother, effectively, and efficiently. This outlook requires being receptive to improved methods for producing positive results. You can’t get around it. The secret sauce of success in today’s highly volatile marketplace is an open-minded attitude ready to learn and develop. Practical executives don’t let anything stand in the way of attaining the company’s goals and theirs—especially not even themselves.

Are Open: You understand that risk is essential, yet you balance it against the possible downfalls and the potential of the ultimate long-term success of the project. You’re often the “keepers” of the process, yet recognize that always doing the same things the same way is a recipe for disaster and a surefire tactic for losing the competitive edge. Yes, you may slow down the implementation of new ideas because you want them done right. Lessons from the past inform your actions. You know that everything doesn’t always go as planned. As a practical executive, methodically addressing what needs completing differently to make it work the next time or explore if the result was misidentified is a crucial element of your strategy.

Are these more pragmatic business approaches listed as the higher-level, more nuanced attitudes companies put on the job description for their leaders? Probably not. However, if you haven’t developed these “practical” attributes early in your career, you haven’t set yourself up to soar in the future as the leader you want to be. It’s hard to build a substantive career on a shaky foundation. As a practical leader, you know this and establish a solid footing for your career to the top early!