15 leadership behaviors and traits of successful leaders

March 25, 2019

Effective leadership behaviors and attitudes

Are you a good leader? A bad boss? Or a meek manager? Do you possess the necessary leadership behaviours to be successful? Oh, and are effective leadership behaviors and attitudes instilled from birth or developed throughout the years?

If these questions bother you, you’ll probably find the answers below where we’ll go through the leadership traits and behaviors that set apart the good from the bad leaders. No, it’s not necessary that you possess all of them, but a big portion yes.

Also, the good news is that you’re not doomed if you’re not, let’s say, a natural public speaker. Because with work you can improve that and eventually become comfortable at speaking in front of big crowds. Now, there are some people who seem to be born leaders – their charisma is bigger than life – but even they work on improving their leadership behaviours.

Take Obama for example, put aside his policies, the man was predestined to be a leader. Yet, during his campaigning and later as President he sometimes struggled to communicate his vision and knowledge to the public. For that, he was trained and mentored by his communication team.

 1. Self-awareness

 2. Sympathy

 3. Critical thinking

 4. Good communication

 5. Perseverance

 6. Desire to pass the torch

 7. Curiosity

 8. Emotional intelligence

 9. Storytelling

 10. Interest for their team

 11. Humility

 12. Assessment

 13. Stoic mindset

 14. Self belief

 15. Integrity

 16. Conclusion

So what are leadership behaviors?

Simply put, leadership behaviors are sets of characteristics and actions of a good leader. Through this leadership behavior they are able to influence, motivate and guide a group of people. Each leader has a unique set of leadership behaviors and traits. For instance, some have a natural charisma, but lack confidence; others are super confident, but lack tact.

15 effective leadership behaviors and attitudes

Let’s see how many of these effective leadership behaviors you can identify with, and which ones you should work on improving. These leadership behaviors are most seen in successful leaders, from every day small business owners to Gandhi, Oprah and beyond.

Self-awareness

According to Jasmine Chen, Founder of LIFE Intelligence, one of the most important leadership behaviors is self-awareness. That involves both internal and external self-awareness. Internal self-awareness is seeing yourself clearly: understanding your strengths and weaknesses, why you act the way you do, your biases and triggers. External self-awareness is seeing yourself the way others see you: are you really coming off as funny, or arrogant? Are you presenting yourself as polite, or a pushover?

Here’s the problem: self-awareness becomes even harder to grasp as one gains power as a leader. Typically, the more power one has, the greater the chances that they will soon overestimate their skills.

In one example, a seasoned CEO, the grandfather of the company, decided to hold a town hall. But, rather than allowing attendees a chance to speak, he ended monopolizing the conversation with 90 minutes of monologue. While his attempt at mentorship came from a good place, he lacked the self-awareness to realize that his employees were feeling disengaged, obligated to sit through a talk while feeling disenfranchised by a less-than collaborative event. This is a classic example of how expertise and authority can get in the way of self-awareness.

Sympathy

The overused ideas of a leader always tend to lean in terms of strong, powerful, smart and so on. However, there is one major part of a leader that seems to be left out, sympathy. To actually have true passion and understanding for those you are in charge of makes a huge difference in productivity. If you are a leader that dictates rather than understands your employees then respect will not flow as naturally, says Steve O’Dell, the Co-Founder of Tenzo

Critical thinking

Leadership should always be based on a person’s ability to think critically. How do you as a leader handle difficult situations? How do you break bad news to someone? These types of questions are only solved through deep critical analysis of situations. If you have a leader that overlooks the deeper outcomes of interactions then a lot of details will be lost in passing. There is a reason why schools want to focus so much on critical thinking, and it is because it is what shapes our youth to become powerful leaders, says Jack Klauber, CEO of Everyday Dose

Good communication

As Gerald Lombardo, the Co-Founder of The Word Counter puts it, a good leader must have great communication skills. Leading is dependent upon being able to reach people and connect with people in a way that makes you trustworthy and reliable. When you’re a leader you need to be a resource that pours into others with guidance and direction. The flip side to good communication is knowing when to listen and how to decipher messages correctly.

Perseverance

Great leaders persevere in the face of adversity. My business, Snow Monkey, was created because I’m not one to back down from a challenge—when I was diagnosed with Celiac disease during college, there were few sweet treats available that could accommodate the dietary needs of an athlete with Celiac. I took matters into my own hands and created Snow Monkey, a plant-based, high-protein ice cream alternative.

That same drive that led me to create Snow Monkey and bring it to market was tested again when I found that many investors were hesitant to work with a female, 20-something first-time founder. Instead of giving up, I launched a Kickstarter campaign to gain capital and proof of concept. It was fully funded within 24 hours. The challenges of being a business owner never stop, but a true leader knows that no obstacle can keep them from their goals, says Rachel Geicke, Founder of Snow Monkey.

Desire to pass the torch

As a professional development trainer and college professor of management, says Stacy Roberts, President of SMR Leadership Solutions, I found that a quality that good leaders have is the desire to pass the torch.

They mentor, groom, and prepare their followers to grow and develop so the company, vision, and mission will continue once they’re no longer there. Succession planning is crucial to the legacy of an organization and I’ve seen many in leadership positions fail to cultivate the next leader to take their place.

One of the best managers I ever had told me, “Stacy, I want you to grow here. I want you to be ready to take my place one day and I’m going to make sure when the day comes, you will succeed in securing and excelling in my role.” Guess, what? She followed through and I’ll never forget her.

Curiosity

There are, according to Amie Devero, President of Beyond Better, so many well-discussed leadership behaviors that make good leaders, and trying to come up with one less obvious one may prove daunting. In my work as an executive coach and strategy consultant for the founders and leaders of high-growth startups, I inquire into this question on a regular basis.

Maybe the thing that comes to mind first is a deep sense of curiosity about themselves and others. Leaders are relentlessly curious, and tend to be adaptable enough to recognize opportunities to both grow themselves and their teams – as well as noticing subtle changes or behaviors that they can learn from. This proves true whether trying to grow one’s team, or adapt the strategy of an organization – or transform oneself to better serve an organization and its customers.

Without having that motivating curiosity, people (and so, leaders) become stale. They fail to notice the moments when an employee needs support, or acknowledgement; they often can’t see the ways they must themselves improve. That lack of curiosity means they simply cannot hear and utilize the constant feedback that’s available.

Emotional intelligence

In the words of Valeria Lo Iacono, owner of Symonds Training  emotional intelligence is an important trait of good leaders. People with high emotional intelligence have good awareness and control of their emotions and abilities, as well as a good understanding of other people’s emotional states.

In a leader, this means that they will:

  • Know their strengths and weaknesses and therefore be able to delegate effectively.
  • Avoid making impulsive decisions and lashing out at other people in anger.
  • Have better communication skills as they understand other people’s point of views.
  • Have great negotiation and persuasion skills, thanks to their ability to grasp other people’s emotions.
  • Lead a happier, more satisfied and more productive team, as their team members will feel valued and appreciated.

Storytelling

A storytelling skillset is an underestimated leadership trait, but it’s for strategy execution and to inspire others.

I personally learned it when I was working for a client and noticed something special. A senior manager had his team and colleagues respect and admiration. After I spent a few days with him, I realized what was his secret: storytelling.

He experienced one of the worst crises in the 1980s in his home country, Peru. He quickly shared his thoughts and inspiration.

After more than four years, I still remember how skillful he was to deliver much more than information through storytelling. He was capable of turning a dark mood into a combative one or lifting people’s moods with a humorous anecdote. Since that day I noticed that storytelling keeps showing like a distinctive trait among every good leader I have met, says Yker Valerio, Founder of Bon Vivant Caffè.

Humility

According to Capri Wheaton, CEO of Thryft Corp, great leaders possess a substantial amount of humility. Humble leaders create unparalleled levels of trust and transparency within their organization. Humble leaders achieve greater success by fostering safe, collaborative work environments. When a leader acts with humility, that sets the tone for the entire organization.

Assessment

Most lists of leadership-traits talk about communication, respect, gratitude, and so on. But one game-changing leadership trait that is often overlooked according to Jason Fonceca, Co-Founder and Director of Ryze, assessment. Good leaders must have superb assessment skills because they’re the ones leading. If they lead in a poor direction, it’s vital that they can assess the situation and adjust.

They need to assess their own strengths and weaknesses, as well as those of their team. They must assess their mistakes and amend them. Not to mention weigh all the paths, tools, and resources available and select ones that fit. Leaders must constantly assess progress, growth, and momentum, then speak up if things are off-track. They have to assess opportunities that may be disguised as bribes or distractions. Assessment is an invisible skill so many leaders neglect, don’t let yourself be one of them.

Stoic mindset

Staying motivated and not letting what they cannot do interfere with what they can do is an important leadership behaviour, claims Christian Bolz, CEO of Retail CRM Cloud. Some may call this a stoic approach since you doing what you currently are able to do for your business, rather than worrying about things that you cannot affect.

This idea also trickles down into the work mindsets of employees and pushes them and yourself to innovate and move with the possibilities at hand. This has been a defining principle during the pandemic to uplift my spirit and the people working with me.

Self belief

Successful leaders believe in themselves, says Outstanding Food CEO, Bill Glaser. You can’t expect others to follow you when you’ve barely been able to convince yourself. Before I became comfortable building businesses, I would decline opportunities because I was afraid. My fear of failure was holding me back, and it prevented me from finding success earlier in my journey.

Thankfully, my business mentors, peers, and self-study through influential books by thought leaders taught me to invest in myself and trust myself to reach my full potential. That self-confidence helped me become the best leader I could be, and now I’m passionate about sharing my wisdom with young aspiring entrepreneurs who might need a similar push into the light.

Integrity

As per Deepak Shukla, Pearl Lemon’s founder, integrity is a trait that all great leaders possess. Great leaders do what they say they will do and will live by their word. Integrity is what makes a leader responsible and answerable to their team. This relationship is the foundation of trust between any leader and their team, and is crucially important for any business.

Conclusion

These effective leadership behaviors and attitudes show the clear distinction between a mere boss and a good leader. A good leader is aware of the importance of teamwork, but is not afraid to make a decision that’s opposite to the rules and expectations. A good leader helps their team to grow and appreciates their feedback and effort. A good leader owns their mistakes but never apologizes for their passion.

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