Traits of effective leaders

Trait: Trait is defined as a particular characteristics, quality or tendency of a person.

The dictionary defines trait as a particular characteristics, quality or tendency that someone or something has. An effective leader has certain traits, characteristics or qualities which make him successful. Most leadership studies indicate that no single trait seems to set off the leader from other members of a group. However, it is a combination of many traits that makes a leader effective. Following are some of the traits or attributes listed out by a few famous personalities.

Courage: A leader must have the moral courage at every level and the physical courage at some levels. He must have the courage to take decisions and then to stand by them. People may say that this trait applies only to the leaders in the military or the armed forces. This is not true because in industry or in social organizations, if you do not have the courage to express your views and opinions, you cannot be a good member of that organization, and you cannot be a good leader.

Will Power: A leader to be effective has to have the quality of will power in him. He must have the determination to see and, if need be, force decisions through against the opposition.

Judgment: Judgment can be defined as a tool balancing pros and cons. A person to be effective in his leadership should have the ability to take judgments which are fruitful and aimed at the accomplished of the organizational objectives. Proper analysis of the pros and cons of the judgment have to be done before going ahead with the decision.

Flexibility: When a leader is operating in an environment where everything and everyone is changing, he has to have the ability of changing himself. He cannot hold on to the way he had been doing things in the past. His ways and methods should also change with the changed circumstances and conditions.

Knowledge: Naturally the leader must have knowledge and should keep a step or two ahead, not only of competitors, but also of his followers. Otherwise he has no justification of trying to lead them. Thus, a leader must keep learning. The extent of detail and specification of his knowledge required would depend on the level; in the hierarchy of command that he has reached.

Persuasiveness: The ability to persuade others to one’s own point of view can be the greatest leadership quality. A leader can with this quality make persons under him want to do what he wants them to do.

Empathy: What is needed to put the element of effectiveness in leadership is the need to understand the human beings – an understanding of their needs, emotions, feelings etc.

Decisiveness and initiative: A leader must be decisive. Whatever his style of leadership, it is he who has to take the decision. He must have the initiative,. He must have flexibility in decision making but ultimately he must be decisive and take the initiative where necessary. He must be assertive though not necessarily aggressive.

Creativity: Finally, an important quality of a good leader is creativity. Many writers prefer to use the word vision instead of creativity.The leaders must have the ability to analyze the needs, aspirations etc, of his followers and create a good work situation so that there is an integration of goals and objectives.

Leadership Styles:

The performance of leaders is often measured by the quality and performance of their followers. The quality of performance however is probably attributable to the style of leading.

There are many ways in which we can describe the basic leadership styles. The leader’s attitude towards human beings is the main basis distinction between these styles. These styles can vary according to the leaders’ philosophy and attributes. We can categorize leadership into three styles as:

1) The Autocratic Leadership Style.
2) The Democratic or the Participative Leadership Style
3) The Laissez faire or Free-rein Leadership Style