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leadership characteristicsThere are many opinions out there about what makes an exceptional leader, but overall they tend to focus on charisma, dedication, and interpersonal skills.  Some say that leaders share certain intrinsic personality characteristics; others believe that any person can be a great leader by cultivating this behavior.

Skilled leaders can work wonders with a small budget and do what it takes to keep a project on track.  An exceptional leader can make the difference between a mediocre and an incredible end product.

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Let’s take a look at a few models of successful leaders, containing both personality traits and behaviors.

Leadership Characteristics

Forbes recently published a list of leadership characteristics that the ideal business leader should show:

  1. Honesty – An honest leader inspires their team to be honest as well. By holding themselves to a higher standard, they provide a model for others to emulate and encourage clear communication.
  2. Ability to delegate – Leaders can’t do everything themselves, and must feel confident enough in their teams to delegate important tasks to them.  A leader must be familiar with their team, able to work with their strengths and weaknesses.
  3. Communication – If a leader can’t communicate their vision, what use is the vision?  A healthy team has a steady flow of information moving through it, and this is vital for keeping everyone on the same page.  This is especially important when training new team members.

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  1. Sense of Humor – What happens when things go wrong?  A leader needs to be able to bounce back from failures while maintaining a positive attitude.  Their teams look to them to see how to act during a struggle; they set the tone.
  2. Confidence – A leader needs to be confident in what they are doing, especially during the tough times.  A confident leader instills confidence in their team, keeping them motivated and feeling good about the project.
  3. Commitment – If a leader is not committed to a task, can they expect their team to be?  When teams see that a leader is committed – staying extra hours, doing unpleasant work, etc. – it creates an encouraging atmosphere in which people want to do their best.  Commitment doesn’t just include doing actual work – it also means keeping your word about anything and everything else.

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According to Entrepreneur.com, a leader also shows the following qualities:

7. Vision – Leaders need to show an ability to see the whole picture, a clear image of the end-goal. This must be an abstract concept that other people can get behind, but also full of concrete specifics to turn imagination into action.

8. Competency – Leaders should be fairly knowledgeable in the tasks involved with a project, enough to train and guide team members.  The best leaders are those who are able to adapt to new conditions while still producing good quality work.

9. Ambition – If a leader does not seem motivated and involved with their work, their team will not much care about producing the best product possible.  A leader who is always striving to be better, to improve the quality of their work, will impress their team and encourage them to set their goals higher.

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While not all of the best leaders necessarily share these qualities, you will find most of them present in many successful leaders.  It is definitely true that personal leadership characteristics like honesty and ambition are important, but there are also many things that people can actively do to lead a team to success.  Overall, whatever traits they may have or not have, a leader who can roll with the punches and continually inspire their team to excellence is best for any situation.

Page Last Updated: February 2020

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