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4 Essential Leadership Traits

Part of the Managing All-in-One For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Business will continue to transform in the foreseeable future, but great leadership remains steadfast, like a sturdy rock standing up to the storms of change. Numerous traits of great leaders have remained the same over the years and are still highly valued. The following sections discuss essential leadership traits.

Optimism

Great leaders always see the future as a wonderful place. They may encounter much adversity and hard work on the way to achieving their goals, but leaders always look forward to the future optimistically. This optimism becomes a glow that radiates from all great leaders and touches the employees who come into contact with them.

People want to feel good about themselves and their futures, and they want to work for winners. Workers thus naturally flock to people who are optimistic instead of pessimistic. Who wants to work for someone who simply spouts doom and gloom about the future of a business? Negative managers only demotivate their employees and coworkers, inspiring them to spend more time polishing their resumes than improving their organizations.

Be an optimist. Let your excitement rub off on the people around you.

Confidence

Confident leaders make for confident followers, which is why organizations led by confident leaders are unstoppable. An organization's employees mirror the behavior of their leaders. When leaders are tentative and unsure of themselves, so are workers (and the bottom-line results of the organization). When leaders display self-confidence, workers follow suit, and the results can be astounding.

Be a confident leader. Your example and vision inspire your employees to perform their best and give them more confidence in their abilities.

Integrity

Integrity is the trait that employees most want from their leaders. When an organization's leaders conduct themselves with integrity, the organization can make a very real and positive difference in the lives of its employees, its customers, and others who come in contact with it. Employees then develop even more positive feelings about the organization.

Most workers devote a third (or more) of their waking hours to their jobs. Whether the organization makes light fixtures, disposes of radioactive waste, develops virtual reality software, or delivers pizzas, people want to be part of an organization that makes a positive difference in people's lives.

Decisiveness

Great leaders make decisions. However, not every decision is created equal. Some decisions have little impact on the company and its employees and customers. These decisions can and should be made quickly. Other decisions are strategic and have a great, long-term impact on the company and its employees and customers. These decisions require much deliberation and information gathering and analysis and should never be made in a shoot-from-the-hip fashion. Yet other decisions lie somewhere in between these two extremes.

Match your decision-making style to the nature of the decision to be made. When you have the information you need to make a quality decision, make it. Don't waffle or equivocate. Making decisions is one of your key jobs as a manager.

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