Top 10 Traits for Leaders


By Seth Epstein

Effective leadership is vital to the long-term success of any organization. Leaders shape the culture, train the future, and make the decisions that bring organizations to life. While a lot of credit is given to natural-born leaders, leadership is mostly a character trait that is learned over time. Learning these 10 traits will help you improve your leadership quality, and put you in a good place to lead effectively.

Communicate Clearly

The root of every task as a leader requires clear communication. Strong leaders can share information quickly and effectively. Keep instruction easy to understand, specifically when delegating tasks. Giving clear instructions can save hours of work on a project, and can help improve work quality. Understanding what is being asked for is the first step toward effectively delivering any task.

Show Don’t Tell

Successful leaders can effectively teach others in styles that help others learn. More often than not, a new team member is going to learn much more effectively by watching and participating with a leader, as opposed to just listening to instruction. This is especially true when trying to demonstrate how the culture of an organization presents itself. 

Be Genuine

Effective leaders are not just robots intent on making the best decisions. Being open and genuine with team members allows team members to feel comfortable being open and honest about their wants and needs. This information is valuable for leading productively. 

Practice being Self-Aware

Knowing where your deficiencies are as a leader can help alleviate some of the frustrations that team members may have with you. Knowing your strengths allows you to lead with confidence.

Show Gratitude

Good team members are doing their best to produce for you. Acknowledge it. Work satisfaction is imperative to a successful team. Knowing that their work is appreciated can make all the difference in the morale of your team.

Have Empathy

Even good team members make mistakes from time to time. Extenuating circumstances arise, and sometimes people just have an off day. Extend them the empathy that you would appreciate if the roles were reversed. Demonstrating empathy as a leader gives the rest of the team a cue that they should as well.

Teach Instead of Correcting

When mistakes are made, it’s easy to tell someone what they did wrong. This only demoralizes the person who messed up. Instead, use these moments to instruct. Teaching them how a task is done properly will go a long way to improving the situation.

Be Accountable

Own up to your mistakes and hold yourself to the same standards that are expected of everyone else. Be honest when you make mistakes and own up to them. You can’t expect others to be as accountable as you need them to be if you aren’t.

Learn to Trust

It can be hard to give away the work that seems the most important. Good leaders learn to trust and lean on others who have earned it. This process can be lengthy, as establishing trust can be fickle, but look to give, and earn, trust every day, and slowly it will begin to grow.

Listen Always

The most important role of a leader is to listen. You cannot lead if you do not know all of the information that is available to you. Listening builds trust and respect. Listening allows you to be sympathetic and understanding. Listening can inform teaching, and let you make the best decisions possible in any given situation.

Leadership is about more than any one trait. Often, the best leaders are effective at many of them. Use these traits as starting points, and don’t be afraid to learn new traits along the way.