15 Common Characteristics of Effective Leaders

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What are the qualities of a good leader?

Since leaders are diverse, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to leadership. Leaders come in different nationalities, gender, generations, personality profiles, etc.  They come from different life experiences.

For example, although they were both war time presidents, President Roosevelt led and communicated differently from President Harry Truman.  Though Harriet Tubman and Dr. King were both civil rights leaders, their leadership styles were very different.  A look at the tech titans, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, shows they approached leadership in very different ways.

Given the many seminars, books, podcasts, videos, blogs, etc. given over to this subject, leadership can seem mystifying presenting itself as a complex puzzle in real world situations. Despite all of the talk about leadership and despite the many different ways that people lead, effective leaders do have some common characteristics.

Here are 15 common characteristics of effective leaders:

  1. They are clear about what needs to be done.
  2. They can express their vision of a desirable future in simple language.
  3. They are idea generators.
  4. They inspire others to follow them.
  5. They challenge assumptions.
  6. They accept and use conflict as needed.
  7. They are imitated by others.
  8. They are persistent about getting results.
  9. When they speak, others listen to them (even their detractors).
  10. They are convincing people.
  11. They recognize and utilize the unique value of others.
  12. They tackle difficult problems.
  13. They can accept not being liked.
  14. They are not paralyzed by mistakes; they move on.
  15. They have their limitations.

An old proverb says that if you want to be wise you should walk with the wise. To understand the leadership puzzle, look at those who have led successfully. While none of them are perfect leaders (and who is), their success shows that they did something right.

These 15 common characteristics are effective leadership qualities that are commonly observed in successful entrepreneurs and successful people in general. It’s a list worth emulating!

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