Essential Characteristics for Effective Personal Leadership

The Super Tuesday presidential primaries are behind us now, and the news is abuzz with stories about the rising and falling fortunes of candidates and former candidates. As the remaining contenders continue advancing through the process of what could be described as the world’s most extensive and intense job interview—in which the American people are asked to hire their chief executive—it is a good time to reflect on the qualities of effective personal leadership. Great leaders share certain traits that allow them to invigorate their followers in pursuit of their shared goals while deftly navigating through obstacles until they have achieved success. The following is a list of personal characteristics commonly possessed by dynamic leaders:

  • Having vision is one of the biggest keys to effective leadership. It is hard to inspire others to join in an enterprise when the ultimate destination is not even clear to the leader. However, this is too often the case with aspiring leaders. To be truly efficacious as a leader, one should develop a carefully crafted mission statement that will provide a clear vision of what the goal is and offer some idea of how it will be achieved.

  • Good interpersonal communication skills are necessary to clearly frame the vision for team members and unambiguously relay information and/or directives. By the way, this involves more than just speaking and writing well. While those skills are important in motivating others and stimulating action, listening carefully is every bit as critical for success. Getting feedback and taking appropriate action on it will make associates feel valued and will keep leadership attuned to their needs. It may also help keep leadership from becoming too rigid and incapable of adapting to potential pitfalls.

  • Confidence and self-discipline are essential to carrying out any momentous endeavor. Failure is much more likely if you do not believe in yourself or your ability to effect change. Lack of self-discipline is likely to derail productivity or cause you to lose sight of your vision, either of which could end your hopes of success. Develop the confidence to boldly take on challenges and the discipline needed to turn dreams into goals and goals into realities.

  • Integrity, honesty, and accountability are personal qualities that inspire confidence in others regarding a leader’s fitness to lead. Living a principled life and being straightforward with people will help any leader, colleague, or friend earn trust and respect. Furthermore, anyone in a position of leadership is bound to make mistakes from time to time. Frankly acknowledging those mistakes and taking responsibility for them will give the leader more credibility than will dissembling and sweeping those mistakes under the rug.

  • Kindness, spirituality, and humility are also vital ingredients to effective leadership. Showing kindness and empathy to others can both draw people to you and allow you to see things more clearly from their perspective, which is an important element of understanding how our words and actions affect those around us. Incorporating spirituality in our lives involves adhering to deeply help personal values and acknowledging that there is more to life than just fulfilling our own needs and desires. This, in turn, leads to humility, which can allow us to see ourselves within the bigger scheme of things and face our own failings and weaknesses without losing the confidence we need to be successful. We can see that what we do goes beyond ourselves, and this provides deeper meaning to our work and to our lives.

The aforementioned character traits are all hallmarks of highly effective leaders. Some people are naturally gifted with some or all of these qualities; others are not. We all have varying degrees of strength and weakness in each area. Nevertheless, all of these characteristics can be improved upon and cultivated over time if proper attention, effort, and strategies for growth are appropriately applied.

Do you need help developing the personal leadership qualities needed to reach your personal and professional goals? Leadership Excellence offers individualized personal leadership training programs to help individuals reach their highest potential. Contact us today or schedule a complimentary 15-minute consultation to learn more.