Five Traits of an Admired Leader

One of the easiest and best ways to improve as a leader is to develop a point of view about leadership.  The act of crafting your leadership definition or sharing your leadership journey requires that you actually THINK about leadership in a deep and meaningful way – which all by itself will put you on the path to better leadership.

Here’s another “leadership point of view” exercise – the five traits of an admired leader. What are they for you?  What would be on your list?  Limiting yourself to just 5 qualities will force you to think about this… and will likely result in a pretty memorable list. Here are my 5 traits of an admired leader:

1) They listen.  Great leaders do a lot of listening.  It allows them to evaluate talent, learn, and develop people.  You can’t know everything, and the more you listen, the more you learn.

2) They’re present. The most admired leaders give their full presence and attention to meetings and 1:1’s. They focus intently on the conversation and who’s participating. They don’t show any signs of being distracted by blackberries or what’s next on their agenda.  When they’re meeting with you, they’re meeting with you.

3) They prepare.  The most admired leaders get more done in a day than others because they are well prepared.  They plan, organize and then execute their calendar.  Everything has a purpose and a plan.

4) They coach. The leaders that others admire have a way of developing talent that is grounded in a style that makes the individual do most of the work.  Admired leaders do a lot of coaching, as opposed to telling or directing.  This way, their people really come up with their own answers, which is much more powerful.

5) They challenge.  The most admired leaders challenge without being challenging.  They don’t get in people’s face and intimidate them.  They challenge conventional thinking and help people see alternatives by asking good, open ended questions.

You can tell I value listening and asking questions.  What do you value?  Try this exercise – write down your top 5 “admired traits” – and then share the list with others.  It just might have the effect of raising your game in these specific areas!


By Steve Arneson, Reprinted from Leadership Examiner

Steve Arneson founded Arneson Leadership Consulting in 2007, and has been named one of the Top 100 thought leaders in leadership and one of the Top 25 leadership coaches by Leadership Excellence magazine for 2008 and 2009. Dr. Arneson was formerly head of Leadership Development at Capital One, AOL, Time Warner Cable, and a division of PepsiCo, and currently designs corporate leadership and succession planning programs. Dr. Arneson is also the author of Bootstrap Leadership: 50 Ways to Break Out, Take Charge, and Move Up, to be published in April 2010.


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