Through the years, our concept of leadership has evolved—even our ideas of what constitutes a successful leader have changed. But some core traits have withstood the test of time and been embodied by great leaders across time and cultures. These universal traits are generally related to character. Here are six traits required for successful leadership in any era or in any settting:
Authenticity. Any successful leader must cultivate the trait of authenticity by leading with their genuine self. When you are genuine, people can trust who you are as a person and know that you are dependable and truthful. We’re all rightfully wary of leaders who are fake, narcissistic, secretive or self-serving. Under authentic leadership, organizations get stronger, teams get bolder and more effective, and people become better. The best leaders, today and in any era, are authentic; it’s how you connect, build trust, and deepen your relationships for better performance.
Accountability. As leaders continue to face unprecedented change and disruption, it’s clear that they need to be more accountable than ever before, because effective and successful leadership requires real accountability. When you take responsibility seriously, you’re willing to answer for the outcomes of your choices, your behaviors, and your actions in every situation. You own the responsibility, especially when things go badly.
Adeptness. Every leader needs to be competent and capable in many areas. They need to know—or at least be able to learn—a little bit about everything. Gone are the days of getting by with singular expertise; modern leadership requires the diversity and agility that the best leaders have always had. The greater your exposure to various job functions, the easier will be for you to navigate the ever-evolving world of business, adapt to changing demands, and provide beneficial solutions.
Adaptability. Successful leaders know how to adapt to a shifting environment. Being able to modify strategies, systems and processes on the fly is an important skill—doing the same things that always worked before is almost never the best option. Every leader must learn to embrace change. Staying in front of your industry requires flexibility, agility and the ability to adapt quickly to changes in the business, team and environment.
Ambition. Some people are happy to sit back and watch the world go by, while others need to make things happen. Great leaders have a higher level of perseverance and drive than most people, and they can be counted on to get things done because they are determined enough not to let anything get in their way. Plan for the future and have a vision and a road map of where you want your organization to go. Without a defined direction, you’ll have nowhere to lead people to.
Appreciation. One of the most important enduring traits of excellent leadership is appreciation. When a leader shows appreciation to others and recognizes people for their ideas and contributions, it improves their ability to lead. When you make a habit of showing appreciation to each person on your team, you’ll see a significant shift in employee loyalty and production. Leadership has to be earned anew each day.
Lead from within: Leadership lies not in tools or technique but in traits of character. Successful leadership begins from within.
N A T I O N A L B E S T S E L L E R
The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness
After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.
Additional Reading you might enjoy:
- 12 Successful Leadership Principles That Never Grow Old
- A Leadership Manifesto: A Guide To Greatness
- How to Succeed as A New Leader
- 12 of The Most Common Lies Leaders Tell Themselves
- 4 Proven Reasons Why Intuitive Leaders Make Great Leaders
- The One Quality Every Leader Needs To Succeed
- The Deception Trap of Leadership
Photo Credit: iStockPhotos
Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.