What Are the Essential Characteristics of an Effective Leader?

An effective leader is a good communicator who listens to what others say.
An effective leader is a good communicator who listens to what others say. (Image: Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Leadership characteristics are the skills and values of effective leaders that help them get things done. Although some skills are innate, people can learn leadership to a certain extent. An effective leader is one who is knowledgeable, communicates well, takes risks and also recognizes the contributions of others. Although there are other attributes that make for effective leadership, these are essential characteristics.


To be effective, a leader should know what her organization is about. If the organization manufactures clothing, the leader should be knowledgeable about the clothing industry. People he leads should look up to his expertise. He should be aware of the long-term and short-term goals of the organization so as to be able to effectively represent it.

Communication Skills

Effective leaders are also good communicators. Good communication does not only mean the ability to inspire others with speeches, but also the ability to communicate in everyday situations. In addition to being good speakers, effective communicators are also good listeners. Effective leaders also use communication channels, such as email, effectively in order to communicate.

Risk Taking

Risk taking involves an element of openness to change. They are not afraid to take a risk because they are afraid of failure. In case the risk doesn’t pay off, they are willing to learn from the experience. They are open to trying out new ideas whether they come from within the organization or from outside. Any innovation calls for risk taking and effective leaders are open to innovation.

Recognition of Others

Effective leaders realize that they do not work in a vacuum. They work with others and they tend to recognize the contributions of others. They could recognize others’ contributions by praising them, for example, or they could give them a more tangible reward, such as time off for work well done. Another way to recognize the role of other people in an organization is to seek out their input. This sends the message to others that the leader values their opinions and inputs.

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