Black woman wearing dress(Photo: Courtesy of Essence)

Apply these ten essential traits of power players for a swift climb up the ladder of success.

1. THEY KEEP THE END IN SIGHT
Six months into her job as executive director of Safe Shores -- The DC Children's Advocacy Center, a nonprofit that works with abused children, Michele Booth Cole was tasked with negotiating with the city to acquire a new building. "We wanted a space that would serve more families and be more child-friendly," says the 46-year-old. "The idea was always to own the building." But when city officials told her that owning was out of the question, Cole had to reassess. As she weighed her options, she realized that the overarching goal was securing a larger space. So Cole made a counteroffer. Her organization would lease the new space from the city, but Safe Shores had to have a central role in its design and layout. The proposal was a turning point in the negotiations. "Taking a flexible approach allowed the project to move forward and demonstrated selflessness on our part," she says. "We had our eyes on a higher goal of being able to serve children in a facility that was worthy of them." Last year Safe Shores moved to a newly renovated 37,000-square-foot building with separate waiting rooms for clients, offices for medical and legal personnel, and a mental health suite. According to Katherine Tyler Scott, a managing principal of the Indianapolis-based company Ki ThoughtBridge, which specializes in leadership development, Cole's ability to focus on the nonprofit's mission was a key factor in using her power: "A leader who's self-aware and knowledgeable about a company's core values can guide critical decisions and enable the organization to be prudent under pressure."

2. THEY COLLABORATE
In 2010 Danielle Torain was working full-time while attending law school. One week before exams, she was asked to coordinate Baltimore's citywide response to a national grant competition designed to provide educational services to low-income communities. Torain, 27, contacted a large number of individuals and organizations -- private, nonprofit, government and philanthropic. "The goal was to get stakeholders who don't normally interact to come to the table and share resources," says Torain, who now works as a senior director of Strategy & Development at the Center for Urban Families in Baltimore. As a result of Torain's efforts, the 340-page document was submitted with 49 public and private partners and 58 letters of support from officials. Torain's accomplishment exemplifies what Ginny Clarke, president and CEO of Talent Optimization Partners, describes as the ability "to empower others, get the best out of them and give them what they need to be successful."

3. THEY ARE SERVANT LEADERS
Whether it comes from spirituality or a belief in the social good, there is power in recognizing a purpose greater than yourself. As a practicing social worker at a children's hospital in Philadelphia, Liz Horsey, 53, says she's had to rely on her faith to carry her through tough situations. In the ER, she saw examples of children who had been mistreated and often had to comfort parents as they came to terms with the knowledge that the abusers might have been family or friends. "I had to think of words of encouragement to ease their pain," Horsey says. Being a social worker in a medical setting requires both resilience and authority, which Horsey says God has given her. "I am able to advocate in the midst of those who disagree," she says. "I can point out people's strength when others see weakness. I understand all too well when people see flaws and write you off as useless. That is why I have so much compassion." Leadership development expert Scott notes that while technical skills may keep the trains running, it's not the ultimate characteristic of a good leader. "It takes personal security to be able to stand in that place of conflict, where people differ, and still be able to listen respectfully, question yourself and still come out whole," she says. "Such leaders have done enough inner work to make their outer work effective."

4. THEY CHART THEIR OWN COURSE
Angela Petitt has always loved the following quote by author Jim Rohn: "Time is more valuable than money. You can get more money, but you cannot get more time." A veteran of the information technology industry, Petitt, 43, was working on a project in 2009 when she had her "aha" moment. The avid traveler was daydreaming about touring Greece when an idea came to her: "I realized that I would rather take a chance on myself to see the world than continue on the daily grind." Despite the recession, this single woman, then 41, took a leap of faith. She started "massively saving" and paying off bills. After four months she quit her job. "I really had no clue what was next," she recalls. "But a few days after my last day at work, I was on a plane to Italy!" It has now been two years. While on her self-assigned sabbatical, Petitt has learned to play golf; ride a horse; fly a small airplane; climb the Great Wall in China; dive in caves in the Dominican Republic; and experience freezing cold temps in Siberia. To make it work, she says, she had to come up with ways to travel in luxury without breaking the bank. Her mantra: Set a $1,000 budget for any trip, no matter where she was going or how long the stay. "You have to be diligent," says Petitt. "Search for cruises on sale, airline tickets on special, hotel discounts -- anything that's going to give you an experience at a great value and cost." She also blogs about her travels at sabbaticalscapes.com to motivate others to create the lives they want to lead. "Don't be afraid of the space between your dreams and reality," she says, quoting another mantra. "If you can dream it, you can live it."