Top Leadership Traits

By Joe Aguilar

Are leaders born or made? According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), leaders are rarely born. Rather, leadership traits are developed through experience and persistence.

The SBA has compiled a list of traits that are considered key to being an effective leader. The list was developed through years of psychological research used to identify the most common characteristics that leaders possess.

Confidence and Exuberance

To no one’s surprise, leaders tend to be self-assured and enthusiastic. They bring high levels of energy to their work and typically don’t let criticism deflate their view of themselves or their excitement at reaching goals. They tend to be unsentimental and are unlikely to be sensitive to hardship. Most have very thick skin.

Thoughtful Risk Takers

Leaders also tend to be very bold and dominant. They aren’t afraid to take risks and they like challenges. Despite all these seemingly extreme characteristics, they exert a lot of control over their actions—they aren’t compulsive; rather, they make thoughtful decisions and usually don’t act on whims.

Team Leadership

How leaders interact with others in a professional team environment is just as important as their personal leadership traits. Strong leaders tend to be empathetic; they can put themselves in the position of others, which can help build trust. Leaders possess charisma, something that makes others look up to them and motivates teams of people to work hard toward a mutual goal. Leaders also know how to use rewards to keep people motivated and how to foster an environment that promotes teamwork.

Leadership Training

Remember that although leadership can be tough, the traits that mark a good leader can be developed through diligence, hard work, and practice. You can begin cultivating these traits in any work environment, no matter what position you hold. You can learn more about leadership by reading books by and about leaders you admire, or even take classes on leadership and management. Many online adult education programs offer courses in leadership at beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels--including online doctoral programs in leadership.

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