10 Best Attributes of a Great Leader

Twitter CEO, Dick Costolo, states,"If you don't deal with leadership roles, dysfunction becomes embedded in your company. That dysfunction becomes learned and part of the culture of the company and it's almost impossible to eradicate it." There are a wide variety of attributes used to describe successful leaders. Assertiveness, adaptability, intelligence, conscientiousness, enthusiastic, passionate, genuine, and energetic are all qualities that most people associate with a leader.  The following are ten attributes that great leaders adhere to.

1. Study You

What are your strengths? Which areas need some improvement?  Are these qualities helping or hindering your leadership? Most leaders have specific gifts and skills. They can't be good at everything. An effective leader recognizes limitations and attracts other people to compliment his/her skills. Once you've determine which areas need some work, you can begin looking for ways to improve your leadership abilities.

2. Creative Culture

Intellectual stimulation is the cornerstone of great leadership. Followers need to have the freedom and encouragement to express their creativity.  Inspire people to engage their passion, creativity, strengths and skills in the work.  Offer new challenges with ample support to achieve these goals.  The purpose is to stretch their limits, but to not become discouraged by barriers to success.  Be sure to allow brainstorming time for both you and your team.

3. Walk the Walk

Great leaders walk the walk and talk the talk. They exemplify the behaviors and characteristics that they encourage in their followers. An effective leader is willing to do what needs to be done to move the organization forward. Whether this requires having difficult conversations with a staff member, covering for a colleague who is ill, or making the right decision rather than the easy decision, a leader who does what needs to be done is a leader worth following. As a result, group members admire these leaders and work to emulate these behaviors. If you want to become a better leader, work on modeling the qualities that you would like to see in your team members.

4. Be Transparent

Another important characteristic of leaders involves providing one-on-one communication with their team.  Good leaders should express sincere care and concern for the members of their group both verbally and nonverbally. Build trust by being open and honest with them.  You may be inclined to tell them what you think they want to hear.  However, by doing this your followers will begin to learn that you are not a forthright person.   “With great power comes great responsibility.” This classic line from Spiderman reinforces the idea that leaders must own their responsibility during the good times and the bad times. Be open about mistakes. People make them every day. In the middle of a mistake a team may discover a new solution. There are infinite opportunities to learn. By keeping the lines of communication open and being transparent, leaders can ensure that group members feel able to make contributions and receive recognition for their achievements.

6. Embrace a Positive Attitude

An upbeat, optimistic attitude serves as a source of inspiration for followers. If leaders seem discouraged or apathetic, members of the group are likely to also become uninspired. Even when things look bleak and your followers start to feel disheartened, try to stay positive. This does not mean viewing things through rose-colored glasses. It simply means maintaining a sense of optimism and hope in the face of challenges.

7. Democratic Leadership

Let the members of your team know that you welcome their ideas. Leaders who encourage involvement from group members are often referred to as democratic leaders.  These leaders retain the final say over all decisions but they encourage team members to take an active role in coming up with ideas and plans. Research has shown that using a democratic leadership style leads to greater commitment, more creative problem-solving and improved productivity.

8. Motivate Your Followers

Leaders provide inspirational motivation to encourage their followers to get into action. You don't need motivational speeches to rally your group members. Embrace each person’s energy.  By simply being genuinely passionate about ideas or goals, helping followers feel included in the process and offering recognition, praise and rewards for people's accomplishments they will feel more motivated toward the team’s goals.

9. Rewards and Recognition

A good leader knows that offering effective recognition and rewards is one of the best ways to help followers feel appreciated and happy. It may also come as no surprise that happy people tend to perform better at work. Not all rewards have to be monetary. Simple recognition such as listening without distraction, putting your praise in writing, and publicly thanking people for their efforts are sometimes enough to make your followers feel accomplished.

10. Change it Up

Do not get stuck in you style year after year.  Ask your followers for feedback and inspiration. Pay attention to the things that have been effective in the past and always be on the lookout for new ways to inspire, motivate and reward group members.