5 Traits of Effective Leaders

Woman LeadingLeadership is the x-factor, the secret brew, the clear and unquestionable element that can bring clarity to dysfunction, understanding to confusion, and achievement when there is a challenge. 



I believe that true leaders are made not born; the effort, the commitment; the dedication to develop into a leadLeadershiper is a lifetime endeavor.    Becoming a leader, studying how the best ones operate to influence change and make things happen is one of the 8 passions of my life


Leadership Styles

Happy WorkerI also believe that leadership is not a one size fits all endeavor; leaders bring their own style, expertise, and belief systems to the task at hand.  During three decades of work in the military, corporate, and small business worlds, I have been privileged to watch and to learn from some of the best leaders and, I am sad to say, some of the worst leaders in the world. Those experiences have shaped my own belief system into an operating manual if you will, that guides how I lead.  Today, I humbly share my observations about leadership to influence your belief system as we all navigate this most intriguing and, I believe, most central factor in our interactions as humans.  

5 Traits of Effective Leaders

1. Visionary    

Steve JobsVisionary leaders are the builders of a new dawn, working with imagination, insight, and boldness. They present a challenge that calls forth the best in people and brings them together around a shared sense of purpose. They work with the power of intentionality and alignment with a higher purpose. Their eyes are on the horizon, not just on the near at hand. They are social innovators and change agents, able to see the big picture and think strategically.

Writing in the Journal of Leadership, Corinne McLaughlin, the executive director of the Center for Visionary Leadership says this about visionary leaders:  “What is it that makes a visionary become a visionary leader? A visionary may dream wonderful visions of the future and articulate them with great inspiration.  A visionary is good with words. But a visionary leader is good with actions as well as words, and so can bring his/her vision into being in the world, thus transforming it in some way. More than words are needed for a vision to take form in today’s world. It requires leadership and heartfelt commitment.”

2. Likable

like logoBob Summers writing in his Likable Guy Blog says that leaders can be effective and likable. “Study after study shows that people will work harder for the leader they like than for the leader they don’t like. The problem is this, many leaders are confused they believe that if they like and are liked by their employees they will be seen by their employees as weak.  Or someone that employees may want to have a beer with. They believe that showing the slightest degree of sympathy or compassion or even sharing a laugh with an employee is a sign of being soft. News Alert!  It’s not.  If anything, likability and respect go hand in hand.”

Dave Kerpen, author of the New York Times bestsellers, Likeable Social Media and Likeable Business, in his wonderful post 11 Simple Concepts to Become a Better Leader demonstrates the traits that will allow a leader to be both likeable and strong.

3. Credible

People TalkingEffective leadership is all about establishing personal relationships; credibility is the bread and butter of those relationships.  Credibility is the quality of being believable, dependable, and worthy of people’s trust and confidence.

The credible leader is one whom followers perceive as effective. The followers’ perception of the leader’s effectiveness bears directly on the leader’s credibility, the followers’ willingness to follow and the leader’s ability to lead. For people to follow on a sustained basis, they must perceive the leader as effective. However, by itself, a perception of effective leadership is not sufficient to lead.  Therefore to be truly effective a leader must be credible.

4. Storytelling

StorytellerDaniel Goleman, The internationally known psychologist and author of the 1995 blockbuster best seller Emotional Intelligence says “Good storytelling is a hallmark of effective leadership. It’s a medium that allows leaders to move others. It also lets others know who the leader is. How the leader thinks and feels.”

Presentation Zen, author Garr Reynolds, advocates leaders to break out the old outdated mode of PowerPoint presentations filled with bullet-points, charts, and smart art and become story tellers.  “Storytelling is the key to communication in leadership in business and in life.  Forget PowerPoint and statistics, to involve people at the deepest level you need to tell stories.”

5. Zeal

ZealZeal: The Enthusiastic devotion to a cause, ideal, or goal; the tireless and diligent pursuit of achievement.   Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Leaders bring energy, cause, purpose and passion to the things that that they are charged with.  However, leaders with zeal work much like the queen bee, inspiring other bees to go out and pollenate the flower of the enterprise to bloom in ways they never thought possible.

The Bottom Line: Effective Leaders Embrace Leadership

JFKLeadership and learning are indispensable to each other. John F. Kennedy

Leadership is not for the faint of heart… wimps need not apply.  Effective leaders embrace leadership they learn from other leaders, good and bad so that that they can become better.  They lead because the times, the business and the cause demand it.   Go forth and Lead!


Marben BlandMarben Bland is an award winning speaker, writer and executive coach. He has worked with some of the best companies in the world including; Sara Lee, Advanced Micro Devices, Eaton, PPG and Fiskars Brands.   To comment on this post email Marben: marben@marbenbland.com




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