Leadership – 10 Essential Traits

What Is A Trait?

According to merriam-webster.com a trait is:

A distinguishing quality (as of personal character).

Top 10 Essential Leadership Traits

  1. Effective communicator
  2. Have vision
  3. Be creative
  4. Take calculated risks
  5. Self-motivated and motivator of others
  6. Confident
  7. Trustworthy
  8. Responsible
  9. Resilient
  10. Able to influence others.

Leadership Traits Explained


As a Clever leader, you should listen more than you speak. Listening is an essential leadership skill. It enables you to determine the true feeling or depth of the situation or person. The problem is that leaders often feel that they should ‘lead from the front’ and feel that they should lead the conversation.  As a leader, it is important to know when to listen and when to speak.

Clear communication is essential. You must be able to communicate your ideas and expectations in a clear and concise manner. The rule of thumb here is ‘Keep It Simple’ (KIS). Try to understand that although you may have thought your ideas and vision over and over again and others have not. Things that seem obvious to you may not be so obvious to the rest of the team. Take great care to explain things clearly and simply.

After giving out instructions, do not ask subordinates if they “UNDERSTAND” what they are supposed to be doing.  They will most often answer ‘yes’ even when they do not fully understand what they are supposed to do. They will often do this to not appear to be ignorant in front of ‘the boss’ and will often hope to ‘work it out later’.

To find out if someone truly understands your requirements, ask them to repeat the essential parts of your instructions back to you:  “ WHAT IS IT I WANT YOU TO DO NEXT?”

Now you can fill in the parts, which were misunderstood.

Remember, if things are not done as you expected it is not their fault for ‘being ignorant’, it is most often your fault for ‘not being able to communicate your needs clearly enough.


As a Clever leader, you must be able to look into the future and predict your industry’s future needs. This may include changes in consumer behaviour and technological developments. You must make clear goals, which maintain both the current organizational stability and prepare your business for the future.

Setting and maintaining your vision requires you to be confident in your ability to achieve your vision.  You must also be able to stimulate others so that they are enthusiastic and motivated to work with you towards achieving your vision.


As a Clever leader, you must be open to new ideas and experimentation. You must encourage creativity in yourself and create a culture of creativity and openness in your teams. This will help you and your teams generate the ideas and processes required to get your organization ahead of the competition. If you are using old, tried and tested systems, it may be a good time to re-look at them. Perhaps things could be improved.

 Take calculated risks

You should not shy away from taking risks. Risk-taking is often an important part of the leadership role. A ‘leap of faith’ may be just what is needed to get you ahead. You must have the courage to begin a new project or follow up on a new idea rather than wait for a better time. Being over cautious can mean that you miss the next big opportunity but you must not simply try new things on a whim. You should take ‘calculated’ risks by carefully looking at the possible outcomes while minimizing any losses or damage on the way.

Self-motivator and motivator of others

You must be able to motivate yourself – even through the difficult parts. You can do this by keeping your mind on the goal and the positive effects of finally achieving it. Keeping this in mind will help you inspire others to keep going and achieve their best.

There are many ways to motivate others. Salary is often only a small part of a person’s motivation. You need to invest some of your time in finding out what motivates each team member. Salary, bonus, responsibility, friendship, and self-satisfaction are all motivators to the right person at the right time.


A Clever leader must have the confidence to enable others to follow directions. You have to be able to demonstrate complete faith in your vision and its achievement. If you begin to doubt your ideas or ability your followers will see this and begin to lose faith in both you and your vision.

You must be confident but not too confident. You should always take the time to listen to others. you must be flexible enough to cope with unexpected events whilst also maintaining the confidence your team needs to be able to trust and follow you.


This is one of the most important traits of any Clever leader. It takes a long time to gain the trust of a team and it can be lost in seconds. As a Clever leader, you must be open, honest and trustworthy at all times. Any form of lying, cheating, backstabbing etc. is not forgotten and should never be practised by any leader.  You should always aim to improve your trustworthiness and credibility every day. You can do this by setting and demonstrating the highest example for others to aspire to.


As a responsible leader, you always remain answerable for the outcomes of your decisions and the performance of your teams. You should always strive for excellence and make high quality your goal. A responsible leader will take care of their team providing the tools and equipment needed to ensure they can perform at their best. You should not blame failure on others but instead, look for possible solutions and methods to ensure failure does not occur again.


As a Clever leader, you must remain strong and keep to your vision, even under pressure. You should be flexible so that you can make adjustments as you progress but you must also hold on to your long-term vision.

Your teams will look up to you if you get involved and support them when times get tough. This will also help you to gain respect and help to motivate your team members.

You can improve your resilience by staying positive when facing seemingly insurmountable problems and accepting that change is a part of progress.


A leader influences the actions of others. Your influence is important as it can affect your organization’s values, culture, effectiveness as well as individual motivation.  The ability to influence others is an essential leadership trait where followers are mobilized around an inspirational vision of the future. Leader’s must use their influence to inspire, guide and direct others to achieve their vision. To achieve this you must act as a teacher, mentor, and role model.

You must be able to sell your idea to others and motivate them to support you and take action to achieve your vision.

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Posted in Leadership.