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Leadership Characteristics to Pursue and Avoid


Be a standout leader

As a seasoned talent acquisition leader, I’ve worked in multiple industries with top leaders across the globe. These opportunities have enabled me to become a trusted business partner and C-suite confidant. After hundreds of executive interactions, I’ve come to recognize the character qualities that make the best leaders stand apart, and above, the average leaders.

4 essential characteristics of a successful leader

My hands-on experience leads me to conclude that standout leaders are–

  1. Charismatic;
  2. Perpetual students;
  3. Relationship builders; and,
  4. Loyal supporters.

Diving a little deeper…

Charismatic leaders take initiative, exhibit self-confidence, and maintain emotional stability and drive.  Team members are drawn to the strength of these leaders and are confident in the success of their leadership.

Leaders who are perpetual students are committed to continually improving themselves.  They are a student of self-development; never resting on their laurels. They continue to rise to the top as they hone their skills.  Purposely learning from previous experiences, they increase in wisdom and knowledge.

Relationship builders take time to build strong personal relationships with their management team and peers.  This sincere time investment allows them to communicate with candor and have greater leadership impact.

Loyal supporters fully support the decisions of leadership, despite any concerns at the outset. After sharing reservations within the C-suite, they loyally support the final decision.  At the commencement of a new initiative, these leaders are 100% dedicated to seeing it succeed.

It is essential to strengthen these key leadership characteristics. However, it is equally important to avoid pitfalls that undercut your own authority. Here are 4 areas I’ve seen leaders struggle to gain respect and ultimately fail.

4 dangerous characteristics to avoid as a leader

  1. Negligible integrity;
  2. Creating distrustful culture;
  3. Publicly critical; and,
  4. Pompous attitude.

Those with negligible integrity lack honesty.  Their shady business standards leads to distrust and lack of respect from their colleagues. A solid team can’t be led by a leader with questionable ethics.

Some individuals create a culture of distrust and paranoia. This atmosphere is often due to the leader’s lack of confidence. Although presumably unintentional, this breeds doubt and fear within the organization, cripples success, and can deter a good candidate from accepting a position in your company.

Individuals who publicly criticize peers simultaneously tear down the individual and the organization’s foundation. Critical comments should be reserved for a private setting.

Individuals with a pompous attitude use words, tone and actions to communicate their importance.  These people often set policies to boost their own agenda. This produces an aura of unapproachability in which team members feel they can’t offer suggestions and ideas. The great benefit of team collaboration is lost.

As you seek to be a dynamic leader, I suggest evaluating how you measure up in these areas.

Question: Think of another important factor, positive or negative, that I didn’t mention?  Please share it in the comments below!