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Wednesday, June 23, 2021

10 Traits All Great Leaders Possess

Successful leaders indeed differ from other people, and possess some common personality traits that make them capable of being effective in a leadership role. These core traits can predict leadership effectiveness, and organizations looking for a leader would do well to check for these characteristics in potential candidates.

Over the years, I have read and saved many lists that detail the characteristics of historically great leaders from business, sports, politics, the military and other areas. Looking back on all these lists, these 10 leadership qualities constantly crop up, in no particular order:

1. Integrity: People want leaders they can trust to act for the greater good and tell the truth. We want leaders who act according to their stated principles, are honest with us and keep their word.

2. Humility: As we shift away from command and control leadership, we gravitate toward leaders who are approachable and don’t hold themselves above others. When leaders show humility and vulnerability, others instinctively want to work with them to achieve their goals.

3: Empowering Others: Great leaders trust the people on their team and coach them to make important decisions without micromanagement. They don’t do everything themselves—instead, they set clear vision and values, and direct others to work according to those guiding principles.

4. Great Communication: Leaders must communicate well, both to move others to action and to ensure their directives are well-understood. It’s no surprise that we often celebrate leaders who deliver historic speeches or impactful quotes. Great leaders also give their teams the information they need to excel.

5. Forward-Thinking: A great leader sets a compelling vision for the future, attracting and convincing others to want to join their movement. These leaders are capable of sharing their vision with clarity and specificity, and they are passionate about the execution of those goals.

6. Empathy: We want our leaders to demonstrate empathy and an ability to relate to those they lead, especially in moments of crisis. A leader cannot effectively lead someone if they fail to understand their fundamental needs, and if they cannot connect others’ fulfillment to their own.

7. Competence: Leaders must be capable of doing the job at hand, and surround themselves with competent people. Competent leaders don’t know how to do everything, but are skilled at identifying people whose abilities complement their own, and bringing them into the fold. They also aren’t afraid to hire people who are smarter than they are.

8. Accountable: Great leaders have a “the buck stops here,” mentality. History is filled with leaders who credit their teams for their successes and accept personal responsibility for the team’s failures. Poor leaders do the opposite, taking credit for their teams’ accomplishments and distancing themselves from accountability.

9. Gratitude: One of the core responsibilities of a leader is to consider the needs of the many. A mindset of gratitude pushes leaders to focus less on themselves and more on how they can value and strengthen others.

10. Self-Awareness: Leaders must be aware of their own strengths and limitations. They have to build a team that magnifies their strengths and limits their weaknesses. Leaders are also open to criticism and willing to do the sometimes-painful work required to improve.

There are many qualities that are essential to being a great leader. Some of them may come naturally to you, and others may not. But the more you can develop these qualities in your own skill set, the more successful you’ll be.

Leadership is a journey of continuous learning. It is an amazing experience that will take you on roads you’ve never traveled before.

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