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Top 8 leadership traits: do you have what it takes?

Caitlin McCormack 6 min read
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Being a leader or pursuing a management role can be a difficult role. In most cases, leadership is more than just managing employees, giving orders, making schedules or giving annual performance reviews. It is a task that needs dedication and an array of personal traits which you must develop or constantly improve. Whether you’re beginning in junior management and looking to climb the career ladder or seeking promotion into a senior managerial role, your traits will be a valuable asset. Although this isn’t entirely comprehensive, here are some vital traits that portray whether you have what it takes to get into a management role.


1.Sincere Enthusiasm

Sincere enthusiasm for an organization, its services, and mission cannot be faked. Employees can easily recognize an insincere leader from afar. However, when a leader is sincerely passionate and enthusiastic, the trait is contagious. By being enthusiastic, leaders are able to identify existing critical issues in their line of work. Innovations often start from these problems and end with services and products to the consumer, with critical issues being resolved as well.


To deliver effectively as a leader, you must be able to clearly and succinctly explain to your subordinates everything from specific tasks to organizational goals. Leaders are also required to master all forms of communication, including full-staff, one-on-one, departmental conversations, as well as communication through email, phone, or social media. A major aspect of communication involves listening. As such, leaders must establish a continuous flow of communication between themselves and their team members or staff, either via regular conversations or an open-door policy. As a leader, you must make yourself regularly available to discuss concerns and issues with your employees. A few other skills related to communication are articulating, clarity, correspondence, explaining, editing, and business storytelling.

3. Confidence

A study done at the University of Texas at San Antonio, confidence is the key to a creative and successful leader. According to this study, leadership isn’t all about motivating people but also about developing new ideas. An abusive leader will only create stress, whereas confidence on the other side shouldn’t bolster itself by humiliating other employees. Confidence often leads by fostering a creative and collaborative environment. Overconfidence, however, isn’t confidence and is often regarded as arrogance and falls into the abusive leadership camp. But remaining genuinely confident and positive is contagious and inspires those working for the leader with a similar level of optimism. Communication is Key to Leadership

4. Integrity

Whether it is acknowledging mistakes, giving credit for achievements, or putting quality and safety first, a great leader will always exhibit integrity at all times. A great leader always does what’s right even when it is not the best course of action for the project. A lack of integrity in a leader could lead to loss of trust, which will eventually be difficult to recover.

5. Motivation

Leaders ought to inspire their workers to move the extra mile for their organizations. Paying a fair salary to an employee isn’t sufficient inspiration, despite being important too. A few ways you can motivate your employees include: building their self-esteem by recognizing and rewarding them, or by assigning new responsibilities to add their investment to the company. As a leader, you must learn the motivators that work best for your team members or employees to encourage passion and productivity.

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6. Decisiveness

Good leaders are not just empowered to make decisions because of their positions but are instead willing to take the risks of decision making. They make decisions and take the risks aware that if things fail, they will be the ones accountable. Also, indecisive bosses are often ineffective. Too much effort trying to arrive a consensus could have a negative effect. Instead of deciding in isolation, good leaders allow for debating and then make a piecemeal decision that satisfies no one.

7. Delegating

A leader who tries taking on numerous tasks by himself will often struggle to get anything accomplished. For many leaders, there is always the fear that delegation of tasks could be seen as a sign of weakness while it is, in fact, the sign of a strong leader. Therefore, you must identify every employee’s skills and assign duties to each of them based on their skill set. Through delegation of tasks to other employees, you can conveniently focus on vital tasks.

8. Curiosity

While just about anyone can be a leader, those who are more friendly, adjusted, ambitious, and curious are more likely to become better leaders. Let’s face it; curious people are always seeking new solutions to old problems. They are often trying out new ideas, new things, and when they get the solution to one of the problems, they are not complacent. A great leader is always tireless in his/her quest to find better ways to do things, meaning that they will keep their organization competitive and innovative. Managers Must Learn to Delegate.

How Can You Build Your Leadership Skills?

You don’t necessarily have to supervise or be in a managerial role to nurture your leadership skills. You could also develop these traits on the job in these ways:

  • Take the initiative: Strive to look beyond the roles in your job description. Think long-term about what would be beneficial for the company. Try brainstorming ideas and make a commitment to perform tasks that are beyond your daily routine.
  • Ask for more responsibility: While you don’t want to ask for additional responsibility in your first week on the new role, once you have been in the position long enough, you could share with your senior that you’re eager to cultivate your leadership abilities. Ask how you could help out – are there any upcoming projects that need a point person? Are there tasks you could take off of your supervisor’s to-do list?
  • Target particular skills: If you’re looking to develop a specific skill – whether it is communication or creative thinking – develop a plan to better your abilities in this area. This could mean reading books, finding a mentor, taking a class or setting objectives that force you to cultivate the skill.

Each of the traits above is essential to great leadership. Without these traits, a leader will probably not live to their full potential. The consequence is that employees won’t perform as well as they should. As a result, organizations should strive to identify and develop these essential traits in emerging and existing leaders.

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