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Career & Money, Magazine, Spring 2017: The Easter Issue

Leadership Qualities & Traits You Should Strive to Have

Nicholas Kampouris

Leadership is the driving force to any group effort. Someone with the ability to direct others and create situations where their subordinates can thrive is invaluable to meeting any goal, be it business, academic, or recreational. Without a leader, negative behaviors such as arguments, aimlessness, and lack of initiative will spread like a disease. Anarchy ensues, and the group struggles to get anything done. Leaders come from unexpected places, but several traits define successful leadership. If you want to be a leader, you should strive to have the following qualities:

Charisma

Being charismatic and a natural conversationalist makes you approachable by your staff. The ability to discuss problems, solve arguments, and bring people together with ease can keep group morale from dropping off. Praise and criticism from a charismatic person should achieve its purpose without leaving a person upset, or overconfident. Know how you’re going to respond to situations, think several steps ahead without rehearsal. Be yourself in these conversations; you don’t have to be transparent, but let subordinates see a few pieces of your personality; this will endear people to you, and cause them to work harder on your behalf. Chron further explains the benefit of being charismatic as a leader.

Initiative

When you see an opportunity, you have to take the initiative one way or the other. The initiative is about having the jump on available opportunities ahead of the competition. Taking action also means being at the forefront of decisions within your group. When others seem hesitant about a situation, you should be the one who pushes the issue. For example, imagine being a subordinate and being in a position where no leadership is on shift. By taking the initiative, you assume a de-facto leadership position among your co-workers and try to direct them to finish the workload. The initiative is important, both for aspiring leaders and long-standing authority figures.

Decisiveness

The Harvard Business Review refers to decisiveness as “one of the most vital success attributes for leaders in every position and every industry.” Decisiveness goes hand-in-hand with initiative; an initiative to have a hold of the opportunity, and decisiveness to act on it. Being decisive means, making tough calls when presented with either/or scenarios, and sticking with your decision when the outcome is uncertain. Decisiveness also comes into play when making personnel decisions. People would prefer to know where they stand in a company rather than being left to worry about security. Making promotions, and hiring or firing staff comes down to being decisive after everything is said and done. Any move should be made to its fullest, and group advantages are leveraged to their full potential under a decisive leader.

Awareness

An aware leader understands the environment around them. Awareness is understanding competition, obstacles, advantages, disadvantages, and the very people the leader works with. Aware leaders use every bit of information available to them to make informed decisions and avoid unnecessary risks.  Air University further explains the importance of external awareness.

Boldness

Boldness comes into play alongside decisiveness when it comes to leadership decisions. In most group settings, there is not guarantee to the outcome of your efforts. Risks have to be taken for the group to accomplish their goals; you cannot avoid them. A bold leader is willing to be a trendsetter and take risks where others would avoid them. Bold is not synonymous with stupid, however; you should still avoid unnecessary risk. But being bold means taking a calculated risk that more timid individuals would avoid. The CMAA expands on the importance of boldness as a leader.

Consistency

Above any other trait, you have to be consistent in your leadership style. Your subordinates should be able to recognize you day in and day out. Composure and consistency means acting as you would on a typical day no matter what sort of mood you’re in. Where choleric individuals might lash out, you remain steady and focused on the work ahead. People who see their leader as consistent will recognize this behavior, and apply it to themselves if they believe in you. Leaders Ought to Know, a leadership initiative, details the need for consistency.

Leadership is Not Easy to Define

Despite leaders sharing several common traits, there are styles of leadership that includes other qualities or discard some of these. Any number of different leaders could succeed given the right environment and staff. Think of this as more of a guide than the set standard. Learn more about other styles of leadership, and try to find an approach that resonates with your followers.

Do you have these leadership qualities? What others should one have? Let us know below!

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