Leadership traits are the characteristics that leaders possess that enable them to lead effectively. I’m going to run down 20 of the traits I believe are most important, it’ll be interesting to see how many you feel you already have, and which ones you’re still working on. Leave a comment below to let me know.
The Top Leadership Traits
20. Patience – A good leader needs to show their employees that they’re willing to give them as much time as necessary to see them perform. A manager who roughly attaches arbitary deadlines onto tasks and aggressively chases employees up will only antognise and stress their workforce. Good leadership management is about waiting as well as acting.
19. Continuous Development – Smart people have always sought out useful leadership books and learning material that will help them along the path to happiness and leadership. Most these days tend to be rather disappointing, but one brilliant idea that has recently captured my attention is The Ultimate Leadership Guide which contains all the core teachings of 30 top leadership books, which is simply an essential ‘crash course’ in the principles you need to know to further your career and even find happiness in other areas of your life!
18. Graft – A brilliant leadership trait is the trait of grafting. There’s a simple rule that most good leaders follow – always do the nastiest job yourself. While being able to delegate dire tasks to others is one of the perks of management, t is important that employees never actually question your dedication to work hard. By simply doing the famously nasty job yourself each year, your staff will never have a doubt over whether it’s fair you have the ability to delegate menial work.
17. Fairness/Equity - Fairness is one of the key criteria by which employees measure their superiors.Quite simply, if you don’t behave in an equitable manner at all times, you will lead no more than a rabble of reluctant workers, and will never gain their respect. Fairness is one of Herzberg’s ‘hygeine’ factors from his popular leadership theory. This means that if you are fair, employees will not be inherently motivated, but merely content. If however you act unfairly and break the rules, employees will be demotivated. Very little upside if you possess this trait but large potential negative effects on motivation if you lack it. Its a tough world, but the message is clear.
16. Modesty - An important note to remember is that in every team you lead, some will be envious of your job or position. These people are also often the most active, amibitious and productive members of the group, so it’s extremely important that you keep them onside. By being modest and humble, you minimise the potential for jealousy within the team, and inspire warmth and affection instead.
15. Appreciates Quality - Simple put, a good leader recognises that quality is the most important gauge of the work done. Always. A culture that cares little for quality will demotivate employees and reduce job satisfaction. Staff must be able to feel good about their work and their skills.
14. Sense of Humour - A practical reality for most leaders is that you’ll spend an awful lot of time in meetings or speaking in public. A good sense of humour helps to put across the message you want to convey more effectively and help smooth over awkward or tense moments in board meetings etc.
13. Wide Outlook – A good leadership trait is to be able to take a step back and take a look at the big picture. This is really one the main purpose of a leader, but so many managers instead choose to get bogged down in small decisions that should really be taken care of by someone else. While everyone is cleaning the deck and preparing the sails, somebody has to be looking where the ship is going.
12. Adaptability and Flexibility - A clear fact in life is that many things you enjoy will change, and many things you despise will quickly improve. As a leader, you must be able to cope with negative change, and also be able to quickly grab opportunities as soon as they appear. Less hesitation, and more asking the question “Ok, so how can I make the best of this situation”.
11. Human Understanding – A leader that can understand their employees and really be able to emphasis with the workforce or team as a whole will ultimately be a far more effective leader. Only by being able to put yourself in the shoes of your employees will you be able to make decisions that will enthuse and motivate your staff.
10. Clarity - Job roles and positions within companies can sometimes be at best – a complete mess. Business leadership is about separately and clearly identifying those roles and responsibilities and ensure that everyone knows what they’re supposed to be doing.
9. Charisma – The skill of oratory has been perfectly demonstrated recently by Barrack Obama’s surge in popularity en route to the white house, and his continued popularity now that he has gained office. The ability to speak confidently and with meaning is a rare one, and carries much merit for those few who posess it. Increased influence and persuasion is just one of the positive benefits of being a leader with charisma.
8. Ability to Delegate – As I mentioned earlier, delegation is one of the perks of being promoted to a leadership position. Why is it then that so many leaders fail to delegate enough? Why do they continue to ‘meddle’ in small, trivial matters, and refuse to give subordinates the real responsibility and confidence to be able to make their own decisions? The answer is because it’s alot harder than you’d think to be able to properly delegate control to someone else. Especially the control over a job you’ve been doing yourself for many years. By undermining your subordinate’s ability to make decisions independently, you’re being a poor leader. That’s why the ability to delegate is one of my top 20 traits.
7. Calmness – Calmness is a leadership trait that again we could do with learning from President Obama. One of the most common pieces of praise I hear from President Obama is how he has stayed so calm under pressure. With the recession, middle east conflict and recent fiascos such as Swine Flu, Piracy and torture memos – it has sincerely impressed many that this man has been able to keep his composure and present a solid front. Any leader that can achieve this will instantly earn respect.
6. Ability to Listen – The fantastic leaders thorough history were also good listeners. Drawing upon the expertise and ideas of all those around you will improve your decision making. It follows that leaders who listen well simply make better decisions.
5. Confidence – Confidence flows through a team just like cheerfulness or a hardworking attitude. If the leader shows hesistation, self-doubt, or a lack of amibition, it will infect the rest of the team. Enthusiastically following an unconfident will really test employees attitude, and this is something you don’t want to be doing. You want to make it as easy as possible for people to enthusiastically follow your lead.
4. Consistency – This is a similar point to fairness. If you fail to be consistent with your attitude, decisions or behaviour, you will be causing unrest in your team.
3. Approachability & Friendliness – While many managers dream of being a superior and ‘feared’ leader, the most effective type of leader is an approachable one. A leader who an any employee can feel like they could have a conversation with will be able to hear about what the quiet dissenters have to say, or what the ‘real’ results of their latest intiative was.
2. Passion and Motivation – It goes without saying that a leadership trait that will be admired is your passion for what you do. Whatever your role, people will respect the fact that you take pride in your work, you enjoy it, and that you will therefore try your hardest to succeed.Passion and motivation will always trump formal leadership training or leadership coaching.
1. Trustworthiness -Ethics and trust has to come right at the top of the most important leadership traits for one simple reason. Nobody will obey, follow, or be inspired by someone they distrust. A good reputation, likeability and respect will be absolutely impossible if you’re labelled as a liar. Regardless of their own mal-practises, people will never be able to associate with an untrustworthy character.