Five Traits of Highly Effective Leaders

July 16, 2014 | Jennifer Goodwyn

Whether you've worked your way up the corporate ladder into a leadership position, or have recently started your own business, the path to leadership is never an easy one. While being able to assemble a team is the first step towards successful leadership, the ability to effectively lead that team is what separates the dreamers from the entrepreneurs. Although a remarkable amount of time and effort has been devoted to studying leadership, there is little agreement about what makes a good leader. Regardless, here are the top qualities that every successful leader should possess and emphasize.


The foundation of any relationship, both personal and professional, is honesty. Employees want to work for a leader they can trust and a company that offers a product or service they can believe in. Research shows one of the most important things employees want from their leaders is integrity. By being honest, fair, candid, and treating everyone with respect, you'll be taking your leadership skills to the next level. By emphasizing these standards and executing them yourself, you'll hopefully be able to influence the office into becoming an environment that's a friendly and helpful workspace for all.


Without being able to clearly communicate, your team won't understand your mission, goals, and overall vision. Employees want to work towards something they can believe in, so it's important that they understand your goals and are working towards similar ones. Being able to clearly describe what needs to be done is extremely important, and creating a productive work environment depends on your ability to communicate in a healthy manner. Whether open communication stems from an open-door policy or checking in your employees on a daily basis, making yourself available is vital.


As a leader, if you expect your team to work hard and produce quality content, you'll have to lead by example. There is no greater motivation for a team than seeing their boss work just as hard as they are. By proving your commitment to the brand, project, and your role, you'll not only earn the respect of your team, but you'll show that hard work is important on every level. As a leader, it's important to always be committed in whatever you do – whether it's following through with promises of days off or setting times for meetings, following through with your obligations is the sign of a good leader.


Becoming a successful leader often involves a bit of forecasting, especially in the beginning stages of a new role or entrepreneurship endeavor. Whether through prizes or public recognition, generating enthusiasm for the all the hard work your team is putting in is important. Not only is being able to inspire your team important for future goals, but it's also important for conquering current issues. When morale is low and energy levels are fading, it's up to you to acknowledge the work everyone has done, commend them on their efforts, and keep everyone motivated to continue pushing forward.


Although some could argue creativity isn't a crucial trait for all leaders, most successful leaders are able to think outside the box and are open to new ideas. Some decisions need to be made quickly, and your team will be looking to you for guidance. If you're not the most creative person, consider brainstorming with your team. When your employees are involved in the decision-making process, they'll feel more invested, respected, and important. When you're in a situation where creativity is necessary, your creativity level can either gain your employees' loyalty and respect, or severely damage it.