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Six Key Leadership Traits

Six Key Leadership Traits

Good leadership is crucial to success in the business world. Of course, a capable and effective leader must possess the right qualities. Certain traits are especially common among skilled leaders. Cultivating and developing these traits is a crucial part of becoming a strong leader. Here are six of the traits most needed for good leadership.

1. Vision

True leadership involves looking beyond today, to tomorrow and beyond. A leader should have a vision of where they (and their team) will be in the future. If a leader only plans for the short-term, their team will be aimless, lacking any real long-term goals. This is why good leaders cultivate the habit of planning for the times ahead, and make sure to step back and looking at the big picture regularly.

2. Optimism

A true leader must be able to inspire and motivate others. The quality most needed for this effort is an optimistic, upbeat attitude. Taking an optimistic approach to business life doesn't mean blindly assuming that everything will work out, or ignoring signs of trouble. Rather, it means focusing on the positive, and adopting a hopeful attitude to the future. A leader naturally sets a powerful example for their team, so being personally optimistic is one of the best ways to encourage a good attitude among staff members.

3. Adaptability

No single leadership style is right for all times and places. A different time or a different team might require very different things from a leader. The needs and expectations of individuals will also vary. To be effective, a leader must respond to circumstances as they are. Sticking with the same approach, no matter the situation, is foolish. A leader must not be afraid to try something new if the current approach isn't working. A rigid, inflexible leadership style will never be effective in the end.

4. Strong communication skills

A leader must instruct subordinates on their work, correct their mistakes, provide inspiration, and take feedback. For all these duties, good communication is required. A leader must be able to translate their thoughts and ideas into words that anyone can understand. A real leader also understands that communication is a two-way street. Listening to what others have to say is as important an aspect of communication as anything else. Being able to speak well isn't enough on its own to make someone a strong communicator.

5. Confidence

A leader must be someone people can believe and trust in. And if someone wants others to have confidence in them, they must have plenty of confidence in themselves to start. Confidence doesn't mean arrogance, braggadocio, or putting down others. A truly confident person is simply aware of their abilities, knows they are good at what they do, and is unafraid of responsibility and pressure. In times of crisis and stress, it is always people like this that are needed. Their confident leadership can impart strength and assurance to others.

6. Decisiveness

Decision-making is at the very heart of what it is to be a leader. A leader is the one who must make the final call, ultimately determining what course the team will take. While a leader shouldn't be too hasty to make a determination, they must also not hesitate once a decision has been made. A strong leader chooses a plan, and then throws their whole weight behind it. Pursuing weak half-measures, or wasting time waffling back and forth between two options is simply bad leadership.

Few people are born as strong leaders. Most leaders are created through long effort. Since everyone has some natural leadership capabilities, the key is to build upon and develop these abilities. In that effort, focusing on the six traits described above is particularly important, since each of those traits is so crucial to excellent leadership.