Personality Characteristics of Effective Leaders

Businesswomen working together at desk in creative office

Whether you think that leaders are born or made – or a bit of both – there are still some characteristics that distinguish leaders from others. Have you wondered if you or someone you know is a natural leader? Well read on because that is the topic of discussion for today. Here are some, and by no means all, of the personality characteristics that tend to go with being an effective leader.

Task-Oriented

Are you the kind of person who likes to get things done? Do people come to you and ask you to do something for them and know you’ll do it? Not everyone is task-oriented, but those who are may end up being effective leaders. Being task-oriented means being a “doer,” the kind of person who focuses on getting something done and not stopping until the task is finished.

Task-oriented people generally follow through. This is important in a leader, because leaders have definite goals to reach and people to lead, and people will stop following you if you don’t get things finished.

Also, task-oriented leaders do not need “babysitting” to get something done. They can take initiative on their own – the task itself is motivation.

Honest Self-Image

Leaders tend to be pretty honest about their weaknesses and strengths, but not to the point of letting either one take over. For instance, a leader can balance between recognizing his weakness and not letting that stop her, and a leader can see her strengths without getting conceited. Those in leadership positions may find that they garner more respect when they are honest and “transparent” about their flaws than if they pretend to be perfect.

People Person

A leader tends to be a people person – someone who derives lots of energy from being around people. Such extroverted personalities make great leaders, but introverts are not barred from leadership, either. You can have a love for people and be introverted; you just respond differently to interacting with others. In other words, you can be a “people person” even if you find yourself tired of leading at the end of a day. Extroverts and introverts can both be motivated by a love for people and their wellbeing.

“Infectious” Joy

Have you ever been around someone who just seems happy with life in general? If a person shares an idea or thought and seems really happy about it, do you feel like joining him or her? Leaders tend to exhibit this kind of infectious joy that draws other people to them. Positive-thinking leaders have a zest for life that compels other people to join them.

Now that we have discussed some of the characteristics of being an effective leader let’s talk about how to be an effective leader in the workplace whether you are the employee or the employer.

Most jobs today require employees or employers to be “team players.” You may hear that so often that it becomes meaningless. But it isn’t – being a team player is a fairly broad term, and it can include an important attribute that your employers appreciate and one that you as the employer may also appreciate.

Being a leader in the workplace does not necessarily mean being a boss, manager, supervisor, or other “official” position, although it can mean that. Being a leader in the workplace can also mean just setting a good example for others and/or heading up office programs and projects.

Let’s look at some tips and ideas on how to be a leader in the workplace whether you are an employee or the employer.

Be Confident

There’s a saying that can serve you well in the workplace: “Never let them see you sweat.” Of course, no one is perfect; but appearing confident inspires others to trust you and take your advice. One way to ensure that you appear self-assured is not to talk too much about your fears and concerns. Talk to friends outside of the workplace about your uncertainties.

See the Good in Others

Being able to see the good traits in others is a useful leadership trait in the workplace. If you need to put certain people in charge of certain tasks, it pays to know who will do well with what task. You also may see potential in a co-worker and “stretch” her by requesting them to do a task that might be a bit challenging for them. This improves the overall skill set of the workforce, and helps build self-esteem in your co-workers. Do this effectively I have learned that you should ask people what they are good at and let them excel at that. Asking someone to do something that they are not good at or don’t consider one of their strengths only brings frustration to both parties. Remember the old saying “don’t try to fit a square peg in a round hole.”

Don’t Be Afraid to Delegate

There’s a difference between being a people person and being a people pleaser. Being a people person means you have a genuine love for people, but you’re not afraid to ask people to do things. Being a leader doesn’t mean just doing everything yourself; it means you are comfortable giving up some control and delegating tasks to others.

Appreciate Co-Workers or Your Team

No one wants to work for or with someone who doesn’t appreciate them. If you let everyone know you appreciate what they’ve done and how they’ve given their time and talents, it can go a long way. It’s always good to remember that there would be no leaders if there weren’t any followers. People who are appreciated may be more likely to follow your lead next time.

Problem Solving

If you step up with ideas on how to solve dilemmas, problems, and so forth, and have resourceful ideas about how to correct or accomplish something, then speak up. Having the ability to think through a problem and find a creative solution is a very valuable leadership quality.

The general consensus is, characteristics of a good leader can be in-born or learned, or a bit of both. If you don’t have all of these traits naturally, you can learn many of them. No two leaders are the same.