Traits of the Best Leaders

By Brad Cleveland

I am often asked what I look for in leadership. The question is usually something like, “You go into a lot of different organizations and see many different styles; what are your thoughts on what makes an effective leader?” It is a great question and a few things come to mind.

One is, and I’d put this at the top of the list, authenticity. Be yourself. We are all wired up differently. I have seen many different styles work well, from the stereotypical charismatic approach to those who are more quiet, even shy. Different styles can be equally effective when the leader is true to themselves and when they establish a vision that people can relate to and believe in.

A second trait that comes to mind is effective communication. Communication creates meaning and direction for people. When good communication is lacking the symptoms are predictable: conflicting objectives, unclear values, misunderstandings, lack of coordination, people doing just the bare minimum, and low morale. Effective leaders are predisposed to keeping their people in the know.

A third is competence. The best leaders don’t necessarily know everything. There is no way they can, but they certainly know the right questions to ask and they are adept at putting teams together and bringing out the best in people.

Effective leadership is so important right now given the tremendous changes in our economy, our customers’ expectations and the challenges and opportunities our organizations face.

Please stay tuned. In the future we are going to do a podcast where I explore these areas in more detail and identify ways that you can develop your own leadership style and impact.

Copyright Brad Cleveland

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