The Traits of Good and Bad Leaders

Successful businesses need leaders, someone who can inspire employees and lead them and the business towards success. Leaders encourage others to work to their full potential, inspire creativity and aid motivation. During turbulent economic times, the need for good leaders intensifies. Someone who presents a clear vision for recovery, leads by example and instils confidence in those around them. A good leader has many traits, if you can recognise these within yourself and capitalise on them, then you may become a successful leader in your work environment. The global financial crisis has created chances for people to rise to the forefront of businesses and lead in ways that were not possible before.

  • LISTEN- It is important to listen when it comes to leading. Listen to others, what they are saying about each other and about you. You can learn an awful lot by listening. Information absorbed can help you examine your management style and gauge what others think of it and you.
  • ENTHUSASISM- A good leader is enthusiastic about their work or cause and also about their role as leader. People will respond more openly to a person of passion and dedication. Leaders need to be able to be a source of inspiration, and be a motivator towards the required action. Although the responsibilities and roles of a leader may be different, the leader needs to be seen to be part of the team working towards the goal.
  • OBSERVATION- Observe others and note their strengths and weaknesses, observe what they like to do and what they dislike. This way you can assign tasks that complement other people’s strengths and enable efficient team work.
  • COMMUNICATION- Effective communication will boost your leadership abilities. Be relatable and approachable, listening to those who come to you and encouraging communication among all employees
  • TRUST- Trust others and let their voices be heard. Allow others to participate in decisions, share leadership and distribute tasks. This will boost morale and enforce employees worth in an organisation
  • ADAPT- React to shifting circumstance accepting difference as difference rather then as a problem. Adaptability and flexibility are key when it comes to being a good leader. While people will look to you to make decisive decisions, these need not come at the expense of flexibility and adaptability.
  • SELF AWARENESS- Somebody with good self awareness, knows their own internal states, preferences, resources and intuitions therefore can recognise their own weaknesses and strengths
  • CLEAR VISION A leader with vision has a clear, vivid picture of where to go, as well as a firm grasp on what success looks like and how to achieve it. But it’s not enough to have a vision; leaders must also share it and act upon it. A leader must be able to communicate his or her vision in terms that cause followers to buy into it. He or she must communicate clearly and passionately, as passion is contagious

Other general traits include, but are not limited to; honesty, fair minded, imaginativeness, broad minded and competence.

It is important to exhibit these traits. Simply possessing each trait is not enough; you have to display it in a way that people notice. People want to see you demonstrating these traits–not just assuming that you have them. It isn’t enough to just be neutral. It has been said that the only test of good leadership is that somebody follows.

Good leaders are easy to spot. Bad leaders are easy to hide when times are good; however with the tightening of the markets, it has become increasingly difficult to hide bad leaders. Bad leadership during turbulent economic times is a recipe for disaster.

Leaders who are regarded as less then ideal display some very prevalent traits:

  • LACK OF ENERGY- This lack of enthusiasm means that those in charge do not like new ideas or moving away from the norm. This creates difficulty for other employees to become passionate if they are not been led from the front by passion.
  • PESSIMISM- Often bad leaders are pessimistic and set low targets so they may be perceived as over achieving. These leaders are not open to challenges. Optimism and a willingness to embrace challenges can increase employee motivation and enthusiasm.
  • LACK OF CLEAR VISION- Poor leaders are often vague in their vision for the success and are opposed to collaborating with others. Leaders must work with those around them and for those around them if they are to gain positive results.
  • LACK OF INTERPERSONAL SKILLS- This comes from a refusal to listen to others and to relate to others. This also often relates to a reluctance to use other people’s ideas and input. These leaders become separate to employees and employees can become disenchanted with their job and doubt their relevance to the business.
  • LACK OF COMMUNICATION- Not involving others in decisions and lack of communication can be detrimental to becoming a good leader. A good leader involves others in their decisions and actions. This boosts team work and employees motivation. Take John Schooland’s image of leadership as a guide. He states; ‘what kind of leader are you going to be- the kind who thinks he is the best? Or will you be one of the very few greats who attribute success to the rest?

These may seem like obvious traits that would negate good leadership skills; however, these people are often unaware that they display such traits.

By consciously making an effort to exhibit the traits mentioned above, people will be more likely to follow you. If you exhibit these traits on a regular basis, you will be able to grow your influence to its potential as a leader.


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