Core Attributes of Effective Leadership

You can't become influential without having the core attributes of effective leadership. These attributes are key to what makes us who we are as individuals, not just as business professionals. Let's start with character. A person's character will undoubtedly affect how they lead others, which is why we can all say we have had terrible or outstanding bosses. A person's true nature is guided by their conscience, which dictates their morality and, thereby, their actions. As a leader, your reputation will be aligned with your character. A leader who adheres to what is moral and ethical will be seen as credible, will build trust, and will inspire confidence.

Since everyone comes from different backgrounds, belief systems, levels of educational attainment, and life experiences, it is difficult to simply tell yourself and others to align their personal values with that of the company's organization. Building character as a leader is a day-to-day process that involves willpower and self-awareness. I am not discussing the talents of a leader such as self-development, counseling, coaching, and mentoring others as signs of character; instead, I am talking about how you look at yourself. The first indicator of good character is how you both apply high standards to yourself and uphold them before you apply them to others.

When it comes to building a strong organization, team, department, etc., there must be a commitment. Loyalty is paramount, often leaders think that they have to be loyal to the organization first before their employees, but the reality is more complex. It is clear that a team of people is made of just that: people, not numbers. As a leader, you must earn the respect and loyalty of others by training them while treating them well. Your employees will return the favor and demonstrate commitment by working towards their team's prospective goals.

As a leader, you have to take responsibility for your actions, and SOMETIMES those who answer to you; this is called ownership. Your calling as a leader is to hold yourself to a higher standard and to lead by example, which involves taking the blame when anything goes wrong as well as giving credit to others before yourself. Put the needs of anyone on your team above your own, and you will set yourself apart as being unselfish, humble, approachable, and trustworthy. You will also develop the intellectual qualities of a leader.

Personal courage is essential as a leader because your employees, or whoever you are leading, will recognize that you are a weak leader without it. In this case, personal courage means doing what is right and overcoming fears of embarrassment and confrontation when necessary. Moral courage is the willingness to stand firm and fight or what is righteous, legally, and morally. Leaders must be able to stand up for what they believe is right regardless of the consequences. If you cannot do this, then you should not be a leader. There is a difference between just wanting a pay raise, authority, and power versus being an effective leader. As a leader, you are here to serve and take full responsibility for your decisions and actions even when they go wrong, but you will be proud to do so because you know and do the right thing.

Doing the right thing may not always be evident as the line between right and wrong is sometimes very thin. As a leader, you should use multiple perspectives to consider ethical concerns to determine the most appropriate choice. To gain a balanced view, ask one person if possible and see their advice through the lens of what is just and benevolent. If possible, try to find a second person and understand their perspective through the lens of the organization's values. And finally, if you're lucky enough to find a third person willing to listen to you and try to see their advice from a utilitarian perspective that produces the greatest good for the highest number. As a leader, it's always important to consult your peers and more senior leaders when possible.

Moving Forward...

Finally, empathy is the most essential character trait a leader must have because they must relate genuinely to another person's situation, motives, and feelings. Compassion doesn't just mean sympathy, but it means the ability to anticipate what others are experiencing in a sense and understand how their experiences affect them. As a leader, it's important as an excellent communicator to be empathetic. This is how you understand what is occurring and inspire them to meet objectives. Although it is difficult, it is vital to provide rest periods despite organizational performance pressures to maintain morale and consistent performance. Leaders at all levels should seek to promote healthy families by ensuring adequate recovery time from work, protecting vacation days, and supporting events that allow for quality time with the family. A good leader realizes that empathy includes nurturing the close relationship between organizations and families.