Doug Dvorak's Blog


The Personality Traits of a True Leader

Whether by nurture or nature, the ability to lead has been highly prized throughout history. It is also a talent or skill that requires much from those that have it. In the words of 19th Century British politician William Lamb (and Spiderman): “With great power comes great responsibility.”
While not all leaders always use their power for good, it usually plays out that good leaders have more power as their supporters are usually following them for the right reasons.
There are a number of different personality traits that make up a good leader. Read on to learn what those traits are and why cultivating them could unlock the leader in you:


One of the most telling traits of a good leader is that they are usually the first to take charge. They may be the first ones to start on a project, or the first to step up and take on a task or role no one else will. Those with initiative are usually those who will just get on with doing what needs to be done, as opposed to letting others do the hard work while you stay in your comfort zone.
Not to be confused with impulsivity, initiative is thoughtful and planned. Leaders properly assess a situation, make a decision, and then take charge. The ability to make hard decisions and do the things not everybody is willing to do is the hallmark of a real leader.
George Orwell, author of 1984 and Animal Farm, once stated: “The leaders who offer blood, toil, tears and sweat always get more out of their followers than those who offer safety and a good time.”
Those who are willing to show initiative and push themselves to do the difficult jobs inspire others to join them in carrying out those tasks. Initiative begets more initiative.


Leaders whose moral codes are lacking will suffer – and cause suffering – in the long run. Having integrity means being honest, having a strong sense of morality, and doing right by others, even when it’s inconvenient. This means being punctual, not cutting corners, doing what you say you’re going to do, being truthful, respectful, and selfless.
Many poor leaders – from shady managers and bad CEOs to despots and dictators – exploit their positions and use them as an excuse to take everything they want at the expense of others. Good leaders are those who are willing to help and provide for others, even at their own expense. Good leadership is an act of servitude.


In our modern disconnected world, empathy is one of the most important skills or traits any leader can have. An empathetic person is better able to connect with people and understand how they are feeling. That allows them to forge healthy relationships with their subordinates and therefore, help them perform better both physically and mentally.
Unfortunately, a lack of empathy in the business world is all too common. This leads to poor working conditions and unmotivated employees which in turn leads to decreasing revenues. An empathetic leader is able to see the problems that their coworkers and clients face before engineering and communicating solutions to those problems. As leaders, they are able to create a better working environment and the best possible outcomes for everyone.


Strong organizational skills such as tidiness and time management are also signs of quality leadership. Having these helps create an environment that is orderly and chaos free. While it is important to avoid being too rigid, an organized leader will help those under them work better. Nobody enjoys being restricted to the point where they can’t get their work done.


Last, those with the ability to keep picking themselves up after they get knocked down make the best leaders. People will rally around you if you set an example of never giving up and being ready to take on any challenge especially when the chips are down.
Those who break under pressure and reveal flexible values are showing that they aren’t fit to lead. However, those who stay true to their moral code no matter what is going on around them are the people you want in charge. While incredibly difficult – especially during bad recessions or life-threatening situations – showing resilience will inspire others to keep pushing forward to the bitter end.


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