November 4, 2016

4 Characteristics of Great Leaders

Written by Shina Neo

Characteristics of Great Leaders.jpg

With Election Day right around the corner, we are continuing to analyze opposing opinions and perspectives on various issues, and determine the intrinsic leadership qualities we’d like to see in our next president. While there isn’t a standard, definitive list of key characteristics that make up an effective leader, great leaders, whether political or corporate, have the ability to influence and inspire others. 

According to the results of a nationwide survey on business versus political leadership by Fierce, Inc., a leadership development and training company, “People want the same qualities in their leaders, regardless of the context,” said Susan Scott, founder and CEO of Fierce. “Whether it’s heading a large corporation or the country, leaders need the same traits to be successful.”

Below are some essential characteristics of highly effective leaders.

Leaders are effective listeners and communicators: The Fierce, Inc. survey revealed 51 percent of respondents ranked “communicator” as the most important quality for business leaders and 56.18 percent ranked it as the most important quality for politicians. Relatively the same, the basic foundation of any relationship is communication. Without developing listening and communication skills, the ability to interact and form working relationships with peers within your organization will be negatively affected. 

Successful leaders understand that people process information in different ways, and as a result, recognize the need to clearly explain specific business action items and goals. Highly effective leaders build a level of trust with their employees by listening and making themselves available. Promote open lines of communication between individual employees and upper-level executives by seeking feedback and taking opinions into consideration.

Leaders value and possess integrity: According to a Pew Research Center survey, at least eight-in-ten adults consider honesty, intelligence, and decisiveness “absolutely essential” leadership qualities. Enterprise organizations that instill honesty and integrity in their leadership development program are more likely to produce effective leaders that have strong relationships with their employees. 

“Honest interactions with employees build the kind of relationships that make success in the workplace attainable for the entire team, not just the boss,” said Molly Owens, CEO of Truity, in an Entrepreneur article.

Leaders are visionaries: As a leader, employees look up to you to direct and manage them toward a specific objective. Oftentimes, there isn’t a straightforward roadmap with instructions directing you from one point to the other, and it is your job as a leader to be creative and optimistic in your endeavors. In addition to setting business goals, communicating and motivating employees, it is essential to clearly and concisely convey your vision to your team. When everyone is on the same page and there is direction, organizational goals are easier to achieve.

Leaders empower and inspire: Leaders who encourage their team to contribute and take ownership of their professional development create a culture where people have a vested personal interest. Support your team and create an organizational environment where people feel comfortable and safe to express their opinions and provide feedback. Leaders who fail to effectively communicate and involve others in the process towards the collective goal, ultimately results in a negative impact on the bottom line.

Leaders set clear goals, communicate effectively, and support their team in achieving those goals, but great leaders empower others by building strong relationships based on trust, encouraging feedback and valuing opinions. 

Next week’s blog will discuss how great leaders influence others.

Comment below and tell us what are some other characteristics you look for in a leader.

Shina Neo

Shina Neo is the content marketing manager at Content Raven where she is responsible for the publication of all blog posts, white papers, eBooks, infographics and social media campaigns. Previously, Shina worked as a news reporter and has written for numerous newspapers and magazines nationwide. She holds a Masters of Science in Journalism from Boston University.


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