One reason good leaders are good is that they have certain leadership characteristics that make them effective leaders.
While just having a few certain characteristics doesn’t make you a great leader by itself (you also need to follow good principles of leadership), the more you can grow in these characteristics, the better of a leader you can become.
What are these leadership characteristics?
In this article, we discuss 10 leadership characteristics of an effective leader.
Table of Contents
Sees the best in people
Influential leaders see the best in people.
- They see their potential and what they can become.
- They work to develop them to become their best.
- They also give people the benefit of the doubt. If they made a mistake or said something that seemed off, instead of assuming a negative intent, they assume the positive.
Often in life, you get what you expect. When you expect the best from your people and in your people, that is often what you get.
When you have a negative outlook and don’t expect much from your team, that’s what you normally get as well.Effective leaders see the best, expect the best, and because of that often get the best from their team. ~ Thomas R. Harris Click To Tweet
Care for and develop their team
Effective leaders care for their teams and their employees.
- They don’t see themselves as above them or better.
- They get to know them, care for them, and do what they can to help them.
They also help develop them. They encourage their growth as an employee and as a person and help them find the resources to do so.
- They mentor and coach.
- They find what their long-term goals are and do what they can to help them reach them.
If you really want to be effective as a leader, you need to care about your team and your employees and help them develop into their best.
Exhibits a growth mindset
Effective leaders have a growth mindset.
According to Carol Dweck in Mindset, a fixed mindset believes their smarts are set at birth. There’s no changing it. You are what you were born as.
A growth mindset believes you can always grow and get better.
A fixed mindset avoids challenges and mistakes as that makes them look bad. A growth mindset embraces them as mistakes and challenges are opportunities to get better.
- Leaders with growth mindsets don’t fear making mistakes – they see them as part of the process.
- They are okay with mistakes and failures because they can learn from them.
- They are willing to embrace challenges and risk failure as they know it makes them only better.
Are you a fixed or growth mindset?
Action and results-oriented
Effective leaders are action and results-oriented.
- They have an inclination toward action.
- They don’t wait around or delay, they take action.
- They don’t let fear or lack of confidence keep them from moving forward.
- They take action.
- They focus on getting results.
- They care about people, and they care about results (though if they had to choose between the two, they would choose people).
- They are about accomplishing their mission and their goals.
Are you action-oriented and result-oriented?
Recognizing strengths, weaknesses
Effective leaders recognize the strengths and weaknesses in themselves and others.
They know what they are strong in and what they are weak in. Those know in what areas they thrive and in what areas they should delegate or compensate.
They also look to see the strengths and weaknesses of their employees. When you recognize their strengths and weaknesses, you then can put them in the positions and give them the tasks where they will be most effective.
- Do you know your strengths and weaknesses?
- Do you know what you are good at and what you are weak at?
There’s a saying that goes “Work your strengths, hire your weaknesses”. While this is not always possible, it’s a good exercise to do when you can.Focus on doing what you are good at and find others who are strong in the areas you are weak. ~ Thomas R. Harris Click To Tweet
Yes, you may need to grow in some of your weak areas, but if all we do is focus on mitigating our weaknesses instead of building our strengths, that will hurt us in the long run.
- Do you know what your employees’ strengths are?
- Could the reason they are not doing well is that they are in a position that maximizes what they are weak in?
Work on recognizing your strengths and weaknesses and make sure your employees are in the right seats and focused on the right tasks.
Prioritizes and manages time well
Effective leaders are good at managing their time and prioritizing what is important.
They know what is important, prioritize it, and get it done.
- How are your time management skills?
- How much time during the day do you waste because of distractions or by not focusing on the important ones?
- Do you know what is important and not?
- Do you take time to prioritize your work based on that?
Take the time to see the big picture and make sure what you are doing is important. Then prioritize those tasks during the day.
For more tips on time management and improving your work performance, check out these articles:
Embraces innovation and change
Effective leaders are all about growth and change.
- They aren’t stuck in doing one set way of doing things “because that’s the way we’ve always done it.”
- Their goal is to meet their purpose and goals the best they can, and they are always looking for ways to do it better.
- They welcome feedback and disagreement from employees because they know that makes them and their plans and ideas better.
- They create a culture where innovation and communication are encouraged and where people aren’t afraid to speak up, stand out, try new things, or make mistakes.
If you want to be an effective leader, you need to have these leadership qualities and characteristics. You need to be one who is all about innovation. It’s great if you come up with ideas yourself.
But more important than that, you need to create a culture that encourages ideas, innovation, growth, and change from your employees.
Make it safe for your employees to speak up without retribution. Encourage new ideas and the mistakes that come with trying them out.
The more you encourage innovation, the more effective you as a leader and your team will be.
Possesses a positive attitude
Some leaders are negative. They have a sour attitude, and they are the type of people you really don’t want to be around.
Employees may walk on eggshells around them because they don’t know what kind of mood their boss may be in.
The leader may only look at the negative and look for the negative in everything. They look for the mistakes you make, they look for how you are doing things wrong, and they look for everything that is wrong in any idea or suggestion.
Don’t be like that.
A leader with a positive attitude can make a huge impact.
- As a leader, be positive.
- Look for the good, not just the bad.
- Focus on what people are doing well and how to support them, not on trying to catch them doing wrong.
- Have good self-awareness and self-management – your team shouldn’t have to fear what your mood may be day to day. And just be a positive person.
- Be the type of person who lifts others up and others want to be around.
A positive attitude will benefit you in so many ways.
Desires to learn and grow
Effective leaders have a desire to constantly learn and grow.
- They know they don’t know everything and seek how to get better daily.
- They welcome feedback and disagreement from others because they know through it they can improve.
- They read books, listen to podcasts, take courses, or whatever works best for them to get better.
What is your attitude toward feedback? How much are you learning?
With feedback, it’s important to have a growth mindset. Don’t see it as an attack on you, see it as an opportunity to get better.
You may not agree with everything they say (or even how they say it), but if you can learn something from it to get better, it can be worth listening to.
What works best for you for learning?
Find what works for you, experiment on others, and make learning part of your daily routine as much as possible.
Makes timely decisions
Effective leaders make timely decisions. They are decisive.
They don’t delay decisions or dally around not deciding because of fear or insecurity. They don’t wait for 100% certainty, because they know that rarely if ever happens.
They get the best information they can and decide.
- How is your decision-making?
- Do you make decisions too fast just to get them done?
- Do you overly delay decisions in order to get more “feedback” and “enough research”?
Remember that not deciding is deciding, and waiting can have a cost. Take the time to see the cost of deciding now and the cost of waiting.
Sometimes it’s better to go ahead and make a decision and be wrong than make no decision at all.
Final Thoughts on 10 Leadership Characteristics of An Effective Leader
What leadership characteristics do you excel at? Which ones do you need to work on?
Take some time to see where you can grow, make a plan, and take action.
Make sure to also check out 15 Core Principles of Leadership Every Leader Should Follow
Now to you: what leadership characteristics have you found to be most important in a leader?
Let us know in the comments below.