Doug Dvorak's Blog

Top 10 Traits of Exceptional Leaders

Are you a leader or a follower? We may have been asked this question growing up to teach us a lesson, but as adults, we inevitably end up having to relate to people who have become our managers, supervisors, CEOs, and so on. Everyone has experienced poor leadership at some point, but what characteristics define an excellent leader? Below is a list of the Top 10 things every leader should be:


Respectful: Nothing is worse than a leader who is cruel to their peers. True leaders don’t need to resort to intimidation or excessive force to exert dominance and get their way. When you treat your colleagues with dignity and respect, they will treat you with the same deference and will be more receptive to what you have to say when you communicate with them. Everyone in the workplace benefits from acts of kindness, and these acts go a long way when you need the support of your employees.


Confident: A leader needs to have faith in themselves and in their team. You can portray self-assurance by maintaining strong posture, speaking clearly, and avoiding filler words like “uh” at the end of every phrase. A calm and collected leader is vital because, without one, the team is likely to suffer and under-perform.


Diligent: A strong leader should put in as much effort as everyone else on the team to accomplish objectives. A leader who is serious about their role should participate in, and take pride in, the day-to-day operations of the organization. You are not a leader if you see yourself sitting in a plush leather chair in front of a massive desk while watching your employees do all the hard work. At that point, you are merely an overseer, hardly a leader. A diligent leader acknowledges that they aren’t above getting their hands dirty.


Attentive: Distracted leaders risk losing the respect of their colleagues and affecting the productivity of their teams. Disconnecting from your team by constantly checking your phone or watching basketball highlights online instead of talking to them is not a helpful leadership trait. Leaders can be relaxed without shirking their responsibilities.


Benevolent: A benevolent leader flashes their employees a warm smile while patiently listening to their work and life woes. A leader not only needs to be courteous, but a truly compassionate person who cares about the well-being of those under their supervision. As a leader, you can express sympathy by doing something as simple as throwing a going-away party for a dedicated team member or collecting money to buy a present for an employee who recently became a parent.


Humble: If you are one to constantly brag about your accomplishments or look for opportunities to tear others down because of your position of authority, you are probably not a great leader. Considering you started at the bottom and had to work your way up, you should be humble in your leadership role. A leader with humility inspires hard work and dedication from those around them by setting an example.


Goal Driven: Successful leaders rejoice in the victory of their colleagues, no matter how modest the achievements. An ambitious leader is a person who is always up for a new challenge. Having this positive attitude is contagious and will inspire your employees to rise to any challenge. Possessing this trait ensures exceptional, scalable performance.


Sociable: Every leader needs to be sociable and available for a “chat” on a regular basis. Not everyone has the gift of gab, but it’s never a bad idea to brush up on your interpersonal skills to engage in meaningful conversations that will earn the respect and trust of your peers. To put it bluntly, a leader should not be antisocial. To get respect and admiration from those around you, you must demonstrate that you can connect with them on their level.


Reliable: Indeed, this is a no-brainer. Think about what it would be like to have a manager that often misses work, is nowhere to be found when employees need help, and is perpetually at a loss for direction. A great leader is one who accepts accountability and is always willing to lend a hand.


Inspiring: Last but not least, a leader needs to be able to bring out the best in those around them. To motivate their peers to make a real difference, they don’t need a remarkable past, just a compelling vision that can be easily transmitted. Being a leader is challenging, but if you have these qualities, you will stand out from the crowd.


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