A wise man named William Shakespeare once wrote, "Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them." In other words, some people are lucky to be born with leadership personality traits, while many others must learn to acquire the skill over time and experience. Being a leader requires specific qualities and skills, which can be developed through practice and time.
It is necessary to act with confidence and assurance to inspire others to follow you as a strong leader. Your actions need to be smart, and your ideas need to be innovative to accomplish your goals and guide your organization to success. Through years of experience and practiced self-awareness, you can grow into a successful leader.
Leadership personality traits explained
Leadership is defined as the ability to guide others towards the fulfillment of goals or other successes. While the personality traits of leaders certainly play a role in excelling in such positions, any type of personality has the potential to be great. Although there is no specific blueprint for the personality traits needed to excel in a leadership role, particular characteristics are commonly associated with influential leaders.
This article covers common leader personality traits, what makes a bad leader, and the overall personality traits of great leaders that help them to inspire and guide their team. Read on to discover what traits you may possess and identify which you could potentially benefit from.
Personality and leadership: what makes a bad leader?
It is much easier to be a lousy leader than it is to be a good one. Poor leadership can be pretty common due to a poor hiring decision, bad character, or the lack of necessary skills and personality traits. While various external factors contribute to someone being a bad leader, personality traits can also play a significant role. A leader personality that is not a great match for managing a particular team can negatively impact their effectiveness. Here are some contributing personality traits of a leader that may poorly impact their ability to lead:
1. Not understanding different personalities
When a leader doesn't acknowledge that their team is comprised of unique individuals with different personalities, trouble is sure to ensue. Personality affects how people react to different situations, work most efficiently, resolve conflict, communicate, and more. Because personality dictates people's behaviors, leaders must understand the types of their team members.
2. Improper communication
If a leader doesn't understand the personality types of their team, they won’t be able to communicate most optimally and effectively. For example, some people may require more personable office interactions, whereas others may appreciate direct and business-focused conversations. Without knowing communication preference, miscommunication, tension, and dissatisfaction of employees are far more likely. If leaders are unfamiliar with their team members’ preferences, they may be perceived as mediocre leaders who do not value their employees. When leaders take the time to communicate with their employees, they show that they value and respect them.
3. Poor listening
If a leader is too caught up in their own needs or ideas and neglects to listen to their employees' concerns or ideas, it can directly impact morale and growth. In order to feel a part of the team and organization, employees need to feel heard and valued by their leader. Suppose a leader is constantly shutting down the concerns or ideas of their employees or not considering their opinions. In that case, employees will lose respect for their leader or end up feeling disrespected.
Sometimes it may be difficult to admit defeat or accept that someone else's ideas may be better than your own. In these cases, good leaders will set pride aside. On the other hand, bad leaders may dismiss ideas other than their own or refuse to see the errors in their ways-- which can directly impact the success of an organization. Without the willingness to change or accept when they are wrong, leaders will struggle to maintain their position of authority and may negatively impact the success of their organization.
5. Not valuing employee development
Bad leaders will view their employees as disposable or replaceable, whereas good leaders will value their growth potential. If a leader is too focused on the current processes, they may be missing out on the bigger picture. Investing time and money into the development of employees is beneficial for both the employees and the organization in the long run. When bad leaders don’t value the training and development of their people, they risk higher turnover rates, lower productivity, and potentially could miss out on serious organizational growth.
Good leadership traits: what traits make a good leader?
Good leaders guide their employees and organizations to success by being present for their team and making an effort to foster a healthy work environment. Great leaders use their innovative, ambitious, and problem-solving abilities to steer their company and people towards success. While there are many leadership styles and various leadership qualities, there are certain traits that are very important in being a better leader.
For your employees or colleagues to trust you, integrity is essential. Having integrity means being honest, dependable, and consistent. A leader’s behavior reflects themselves and their company, which is why integrity can also make or break both reputations. When leaders act with integrity, they stay true to their word and follow through on any promises or goals. Leaders need to be trusted to be successful, which is why acting with integrity is so important. Without it, a leader will not last long.
Empathy is one of the most instrumental qualities that make the best leaders and should not be underestimated. A good leader will take the time to understand their employees and be empathetic to their needs. Empathy can take many forms, such as being interested in employees' lives, being compassionate when they go through struggles, or understanding their specific needs and goals within their roles. When leaders show empathy to their employees, they show that they matter to the team and are safe in and connected to their company.
3. Emotional stability
Ups and downs are to be expected within an organization. Strong leaders will take obstacles in stride, not allowing them to interfere with the mission or goals. Leaders with emotional stability will keep a positive attitude in times of struggle. They will manage their emotions effectively, not to let them cloud their judgment as they make decisions. These people are comfortable with their feelings and able to navigate them during difficult times. Because of this, they can calm the storm during a crisis and lead other team members to solutions when problems arise.
When a leader is transparent, they are keeping employees up-to-date on everything good and bad. The best leaders will practice candor when discussing things with their team, welcome their honest feedback, and involve them in problem-solving. This requires honesty and vulnerability but can result in employees feeling included and valued as members of an organization. Being transparent with employees also gives them the opportunity to offer solutions and insights that may have been overlooked previously. When leaders are transparent, they promote trust and can build a more unified and communicative team environment.
Regardless of the industry, nothing is ever certain or assured-- therefore, being resilient is crucial to succeeding in leadership roles. Resilient leaders maintain self-control and self-assurance regardless of the circumstances. They bounce back from pitfalls or defeat and come back stronger and more motivated than ever, maintaining an ambitious and positive attitude to inspire others. Even in times of quick change or high stress, they adapt quickly and act as a pillar of strength for their team.
The dictionary defines influence as having a significant effect on someone or something. This ability is especially critical as a leader because you need to inspire people to follow you and motivate them to achieve your company's vision and goals. When leading an organization to success, the support and loyalty of employees are vital. For a leader to have influence, they must value forming strong connections with their people and building relationships with those they lead.
In order to gain influence, a leader must hold themselves with confidence-- in their actions, their decisions, and even in their demeanor. When a leader exudes confidence, others will want to listen to them. If someone has complete faith in their own capabilities to lead or make decisions, others will too. A leader must be confident to execute on ideas or make decisions, hopefully inspiring others in the process.
Success does not typically happen overnight, and more often than not, there are trials and tribulations along the way. In order to succeed, a leader must be persistent in achieving their goals, continually moving forward past any failures. On the other hand, once success is achieved, a leader must remain persistent to keep things moving on a steady or upward trajectory. A tenacious and persistent leader always has their head in the game and is always looking for an opportunity to better themselves or their organization.
Innovative leaders often have large, novel ideas that motivate and excite the people around them. Their creativity inspires others to pursue ideas of their own, an admirable ability in a leader. Innovative leaders look at obstacles as opportunities to problem solve from different perspectives, and don't shy away from a challenge as a result. They welcome ideas from others and are often perceived as energetic and positive in their demeanor. An innovative leader uses their creativity to encourage their people to take risks, try new things, and grow themselves.
Without a vision for the future and a purpose for why they do the things they do, a leader will lack the foundation of their own success. A purposeful leader will inspire others with their vision and use it to guide them in making impactful decisions. There are no shortages of challenges a leader may face, but having a definite purpose will aid in navigating them effectively. Having a purpose forces a leader to act with conviction and motivates them towards goals.
Leadership and personality: Key takeaways
Not everyone is born a great leader, but you can take steps to refine your current skills and gain those necessary to be one. Amongst the ideal leadership traits are emotional intelligence, strong decision-making and communication skills, self-awareness, and confidence-- each plays a vital role in being a successful and strong leader for your team.
To guide your employees and organization to success, be mindful of which personality traits and relevant skills you already have and which ones you may need to develop further. In being a great leader, the first step is self-awareness and the willingness to adapt and grow. Understanding your personality strengths, weaknesses, and leadership style is a great way to foster the most effective leadership in your position. Get started by taking a free personality test today.