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12 Characteristics of Effective Leaders
By Patricia S Lotich

Leadership is a universal and widely used term. The word leadership means to “give direction, guidance; the ability to lead, or instance of leading”. The goal is to influence and lead people in a certain direction.

These are some basic characteristics I’ve observed in leaders who I have admired and who have influenced me. These are skills that all successful leaders demonstrate and develop through their professional journey.

  1. Big Picture Thinker

    Leaders have the ability to see things from 50,000 feet. They are able to rise above the immediate and urgent to see things from a very broad perspective. They are able to get people to follow their lead and get excited about the direction they are going and the route they are taking to get there. They convince people to do things that they may not even think to do.

  2. Personal Credibility

    Successful leaders have personal credibility with those they lead. They say what they mean and do what they say. Their behaviors are the same regardless of who is around. They are open and honest in their communication and interactions with others.

  3. Influence Others

    Strong leaders are able to influence other to get things done. Successful leaders are gifted at helping others see the path forward for what needs to be done. Did your Mom ever say to you, “he’s a bad influence on you”? What that meant was your Mom was concerned that person had some influence on your thoughts and behaviors. Leaders can affect others in ways they may not even be aware of.

  4. Believes the Best in Others

    Successful leaders believe the best in others and always give them the benefit of the doubt. A strong leader will make sure they have gathered all of the facts before coming to any final conclusions. I’ve learned that without all the facts, a situation can be very one-sided and looks very different when all the information is present.

  5. Master at Delegation

    A strong leader knows the value of developing others and uses delegation of responsibilities to achieve that goal. Delegation by nature allows others to make mistakes and uses mistakes as a learning opportunity. We all know that the best lessons we learn in life are from making mistakes.

  6. Teacher

    Leaders are natural teachers and have learned the art of coaching others as part of the development process. They teach others leadership principles and coach toward the development of credibility. They help others identify personal areas that can be improved and coach them on ways to work toward those improvements.

  7. Integrity

    Leaders demonstrate high levels of integrity and live by honesty, ethical and moral principles. They consistently demonstrate these principles and behaviors to others.

  8. Empowers Others

    Leaders empower others to take risks and be responsible for their own behaviors. Allowing others to take risks is a critical part of the learning and development process. Employees should be comfortable taking risks and allowed to learn from their mistakes.

  9. Respect and Trust

    Leaders have the ability to gain the respect and trust of others. Their behaviors are guided by core principles and are consistent and predictable.

  10. Team Players

    Leaders are able to get things done by working well with others and having the ability to be team players. They use the win-win approach, encourage collaboration and help others come to agreement and consensus.

  11. Celebrates Successes

    Leaders have the ability to recognize success and encourage their teams to celebrate even the small successes. Celebrating success is a critical component in team development and function.

  12. Right Priorities

    Successful leaders have very defined personal priorities and are able to manage all aspects of their life in a balanced way. Leaders are able to set personal boundaries and give family as much attention and focus as professional responsibilities.

These are characteristics I’ve observed from leaders and mentors in my life. I have learned a lot by observing these things from people who I admire and who influenced my professional development.

Patricia Lotich is an MBA who is passionate about helping small business owners see their vision come to life by creating infrastructures that support business development and growth through strategic customer focus. She writes for The Thriving Small Business, which provides small business performance consulting services.

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