Important Traits, Behaviors and Styles of a Leader

Leadership is become very much on every manager’s mind today in organizations. Organisations are struggling due to the increasingly dynamic environment. As the challenges of leading and managing increase, leaders of organizations need to understand process, skills and knowledge to perform leader functions effectively. Lim and Daft (2004) has highlighted that “leadership is an influence relationship between leaders and followers who intend real changes and outcomes that reflect their shared purposes”. Zeffane et. al., (2006) defined effective leader as those leaders who are able to improve organization productivity, in turn develop distinctive competitive advantages for organizations. In other words, effective leaders usually have an inspiring vision; they will try to form a group of people to work as a team, shaping them into a force that serves as a competitive business advantage. Effective leaders know how to make people function according to what they are good at, and how to motivate them to excel their performance. Leaders also know how to balance the individual team member’s quest with the goal of producing synergy – expand outcome that exceeds the sum of individual inputs. Leaders require that their team members forego the quest for personal best in concert with the team effort (Kotelnikov, n.d.).


Characteristics of Successful Leaders

Traits/Characteristics Description
Drive Desire for  achievement, ambition, high energy, tenacity, and initiative
Honesty & integrity Trustworthy, reliable, and open
Leadership motivation Desire to influence others to reach shared goals
Self-confidence Trust in own abilities
Cognitive ability Intelligence, ability to integrate & interpret large amount of information
Business knowledge Knowledge of industry & relevant technical matters
Creativity Capacity to come up with original ideas
Flexibility Ability to adapt to needs of followers and the situation

Source: Greenberg, J., & Baron, R., A., (2000), Behavior in Organizations, 7th edition, Prentice Hall International: USA


Drive to Success and the Desire to Perform. Effectively, desire is the starting point of all achievement. Often, great leaders are those who can stand by their desire until it became the dominating obsession of their life, and finally achieving success. As the sayings goes, nothing will happen unless first a dream, and in this context, the dream essentially means the leader’s desire to success and achieve the vision and mission of his organization.


Honesty and integrity. Honesty and integrity could be generally defined as the action to instill mutual trust and confidence among the subordinates.  That is, for leaders, they should create a culture that fosters high standards of ethics, behave in a fair and ethical manner toward others and demonstrates a sense of corporate responsibility and commitment to public service. Integrity and honesty are they crucial as they are the cornerstone of all success, without which confidence and ability to perform shall cease to exist. Only with honesty and integrity, the employees will trust the leaders and to perform their task effectively, with no doubt on the leaders intension and immoral actions, which can in turn produce better product or services for the particular organization.


Self-confidence. Self-confidence of leaders is very important, as if they were without confident, they will not able to convince their workers on the decision they made. That is, with confidence, leaders will develop a sense of trust from employees in their actions, ambition, knowledge and at least, the leader himself. In fact, if we could observe around, those leaders who able to lead workers are able to speak confidently, act confidentially and even guide or lead his follower confidently. With self confidence, it is impossible for the leader to convince the entire organization to move in a single concentrated direction to achieve goals, mission or vision of the company.


Business knowledge. Business knowledge is very important, as leaders who has no business knowledge will tend to make business mistakes, unable to make informed judgment, unable to further improve the organization in the ever competitive environment or even cannot communicate with others using the simple business jargons. In this context, the areas of business knowledge which are important are: marketing, operation, human resource management, finance, and strategic management. Marketing business is crucial for leader to make decision to fulfill the customer needs, to earn profit from delivering value to the society. Operation management will help the leader to come out with an effective system to deliver the product or service in cost efficient manner. Organization behavior knowledge is important for the manager to communicate with other workers and to manage them, to motivate the employee as well as to lead the entire organization. Finance is also important so that the leader do not take too high risk, or mistakenly manages cash flow which could lead the company to bankruptcy. At last, strategy formulation is so important for the leader to understand what is the next best step to make for him to take the current company to greater height, to achieve long term financial performance as well as to achieve higher profit margin or bigger market share.


Creativity. Great leaders know in their gut that creativity and innovation are the life blood of their organization. New ideas can lead to programs that are superior to those that are already going on or planned in the organization and which would have been divested or never initiated had a better idea or program come along. So, the mission of every leader should be to search continually for ideas and programs that are superior to the ones the organization is currently committed to. In a word, it’s called progress. Particularly in today competitive business environment, creativity and innovation is the key to deliver differentiated product to command a higher profit margin. Without creativity, it is impossible for the company to become outstanding, appear different and unique in the customers’ perception, or to achieve a special organization brand or identity.


Flexibility. It is said that to success, it is best for us to commit to an action, mission, a specific goal, with determination and persistence. However, when obstacles occur, it is equally important for us to be flexible in our approach to tackle the problems. For example, if a leader is taking some actions to hit a mission, somehow, if the actions never yield the desired results, the leaders should not give up easily or by using brute force to continue acting in the non-efficient way to try to achieve the target. In contrast, the leader should try to change the approach, be flexible and persist until he found an effective approach for a particular mission.


Decision making skills. Decision making skills is very critical in the ear of uncertainty and complexity. Complexity science has surfaced recently as a way to deal with real life people in real life, complex organizations and situations. Complexity theorists say that creativity and efficiency should be allowed to emerge naturally within organizations and that this will be more effective than imposing solutions on employees. Managers can do this by setting some basic ground rules and then encouraging interactions or relationships among their employees so that solutions (which are unpredictable) emerge from the bottom up. With good decision making skills, the leader could avoid many business traps and potential business, in turn will translate into long term competitive advantage of the company.


Communication skills. Communication skills include talking skills, listening skills, and even writing skills. It is an area of knowledge with great complexity and often a subject of study in university by its own. To put it simple, communication skills include reinforce rapport with other people, express the leader own emotion, disclose some relevant secret with care, making effective request from employees, giving constructive feedback to the employees, asset the leader himself, know when to say ‘no’ to workers, communication without words, and mind the leader own language so as not to invoke undesirable effect in the company. Without good communication skills, it is impossible that the leader can tell the employees on what to be performed, carried out with motivation, satisfaction and fulfillment. Besides, poor communication often also lead to employees not understanding what the leader want, or sometimes even try to hide problems or critical issues from leader, to simple just to avoid responsibility.


Team building skills. Team building – having the ability to work with staff, volunteers and board members to develop strong, focused, high achieving and happy working group – is an outstanding skill for leaders in the business world. Company that able to develop effective team building, will be more effective, more competent and easier to lead.


Conflict management. Conflict management and cooperative problem solving can be challenging for many organizations as they try to make changes that will improve their effectiveness. Leaders must know how to solve conflict, able to bring two conflicting party into peace and always think in win-win manner. Today, the competitive business environment is impossible without conflicts.


Crisis management. These days there is growing awareness of the risks that businesses can unintentionally expose themselves to that can harm them legally, financially or reputationally. Bigger and wealthier company now often hire professional consultants to conduct ‘risk analysis’ exercises to reveal these problems and provide advice on how to reduce them. The leader must have awareness on ths9i matter, as to safeguard the company from very critical issues, such as law suit, potential litigation or etc.


Intellect. Successful leaders are often perceived as having superior intellect. However, this is often an area neglected by the conventional wisdom, where emotional intelligence is overstressed, that give others false impression that a leader can be stupid or lack of knowledge. Often, leaders are very smart, for example, Bill Gates, Donald Trump and etc, they are clever and brilliant, or else they would not able to achieve such a great success. Higher IQ definitely help the leader to understand things faster, to remember those things to be remembered, and pay attention to critical things when the business environment is such complex and uncertain.


Lessons Learned & Conclusion

There is an exact process to developing more effective leadership. And it’s not complicated! Here’s all the leader have to do: Learn what effective leaders do. Do it himself. Repeat. Because developing more effective leadership is so general, we must break it down into its basic components and work with those. Those components include acquiring knowledge, developing new insights, changing how the leader think and what the leader do, and practicing until the leader has achieved mastery.

Acquire Knowledge. The conscious and deliberate quest of knowledge about all aspects of leadership is essential. Knowledge is the great separator between the mediocre and the exceptional. Here are just a few of the hundreds of areas where in-depth knowledge is important: speaking, listening, dialoguing, exercising, eating, dressing, supervising, motivating, writing, reading, working, technical area of expertise, psychology, selling, negotiating, and the list continues. How does the leader get this knowledge? Again, any number of ways such as: reading books and magazines, listening to educational CDs, watching educational videos or TV, asking questions, interviewing experts, observing people and reflecting on the leader own experiences.

Develop Insights. While acquiring this knowledge, certain pieces of information will catch the leader’s attention. Usually, when something strikes the leader in this manner, it’s very valuable information for the leader in particular. Don’t ignore these insights. Record them in an Insight Log. If the leader doesn’t, what will happen? The leader will forget each insight and they all become worthless.

Change How the leader Think. Applying the leader insights to the leader work and life is the action that begins to develop more effective leadership. Applying what the leader learns and the leader insights to how the leader think is critical to making the changes the leader seek. Only by changing the leader thinking and beliefs will the leader behaviors change. Changing the leader behaviors is essential to developing more effective leadership.

Change what the leader Do. As the leader thinking and beliefs change, so will what the leader do. The leader will find the leader himself engaged in new, more effective actions at work and in the leader life. The leader new actions and behaviors will be directly linked to getting new results and will be recognized as exercising more effective leadership. Insight without application is only entertainment!

Practice Until Mastered. Practicing the thoughts, actions, and behaviors that bring the leader more effective results will lead to developing more effective leadership skills, competencies, and attitudes.

Take a Baby Step Now. There it is! That’s the whole process – which is actually easy. It’s a continuous, daily process and includes making many baby steps along the way. Why not take a baby step right now? With these, hopefully the leader will have an unbelievably rewarding life from the results you will generate with this daily practice.



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