Leadership Traits & Characteristics

Try as they might, not everyone can don the mantle of leadership. As the saying goes, "He who would lead must first learn to serve"; effective leaders are driven by the desire to support their team in the best way possible. Leaders must be able to utilize people's strengths and minimize their weaknesses, communicate effectively, act with honesty and integrity and use creative visualization for goal setting and problem solving. Without these traits and characteristics, leadership will falter.

  1. Honesty

    • Honesty is an important characteristic of a leader. Leaders must be honest with themselves and honest with their team. Only when leaders realistically acknowledge their challenges can they begin working on overcoming them. Leaders must especially be honest when it comes to offering feedback; it's natural to want to assuage the feelings of the team, but by ignoring areas of needed improvement, leaders limit potential growth and expansion.


    • Integrity is an integral part of quality leadership. In any situation, leaders must act morally, ethically and in the best interest of their team. Acting with integrity is not always popular but is most effective in the long run.


    • Leader must possess an active imagination. They must be able to envision the new heights they will encourage their team to reach, and set attainable goals that will lead the team toward what they have imagined. Imagination is also essential to creating and implementing solutions to the problems that will inevitably arise.


    • Leaders must have the ability to encourage and inspire their team. Every endeavor comes with some frustrating aspects, and team members will likely come to a point where their determination and productivity slow down. Some may even feel as if they want to give up altogether. A leader must be able to inspire their team to keep going, and remind them of their collective goals.


    • The English poet John Donne is famous for his words, "No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent...." Those words resonate for leaders, because they cannot accomplish everything -- or anything -- on their own. Leaders must understand the strengths of their team and delegate tasks and responsibilities to the best person for the job. Leaders who don't trust their team and try to do everything on their own will become overwhelmed.


    • Because leaders are in charge, they rarely have anyone to tell them what to do and what not to do. For this reason, leaders must possess high levels of self-discipline. They must be able to tell themselves when to work, when to rest, when to try harder and when to relax. They must set and follow deadlines for themselves and have the drive to continue growing and learning in their chosen field.


    • Leaders must be good communicators. They must communicate their intentions, needs, plans and commands to their team members as well as other leaders. Leaders who lack good communication skills are often the cause of their team's ineffectiveness: lack of clarity leads to lack of productivity.

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