25 Traits of Great Leaders. How Many do you Have?


Decide “what” your top 5 “values” are. Make a commitment not to waver from these when making decisions. Consider your “character.” Who are you as a person. Do you have “real” integrity, or do you waiver on your values when it suits you in the moment. This will create trust and credibility. When you are making decisions outside your values, you will feel conflict. Stay honest. Be accountable. Hold others accountable.

Why are some leaders highly successful, and why do many struggle to create success. After 30 years in business working with some great leaders, (and many more not-so-great), attending many seminars and presentations, and reading countless books and articles on business leadership, this is what I believe are the traits and daily habits of high performing, effective leaders. Not all leaders have all these traits, and there are varying degrees of these in most leaders, but this list defines the core traits needed to lead successfully.

Vision. Have a “clear” 1 and 5 year vision. Write it down. Ensure it stretches your potential. Then build a strategy to achieve.

Values. Decide “what” your “values” are. Make a commitment not to waver from these. Consider your “character.” Who are you as a person. Do you have “real” integrity, or do you waver on your values when it suits you in the moment. This will create trust and credibility. Don’t allow others below you to deviate. Lead by example, every day. Stay honest. Be accountable. Hold others accountable.

Strategic Thinker. The ability to think in long term objectives and then to track back to “a series of steps” to achieve, starting with the initial first step (…then the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc).

Internally Driven and Motivated. The best leaders who accomplish the most, get up every day, internally motivated to drive complex tasks forward, and are personally self-motivated to relentlessly overcome adversity and challenges no matter how difficult. They are up for a challenge.

Goal Oriented. Think in terms of a series of “key” goals. Determine the 5 key consistent elements that will create long term success. Focus on what’s most important related to the vision and goals.

They Work with Coaches, and have Mentors and External Support Systems. Great leaders have curious minds, but realize life is about constant self-improvement to stay relevant and successful, so they work closely with Coaches and Mentors to continually develop themselves both personally and professionally.

Build a “Culture.” Think in terms of “what” the Company will be in 5 years. Great culture carries the company forward in alignment with the company’s values.

Avoid distraction. Do not be distracted by chaos, or tasks that will not help you achieve your goals. Focus all tasks on the achievement of key goals. Goals.

Personal Discipline. Have personal discipline. Do what you say you are going to do. Set this example and everyone else will follow to become an organization of “doers.”

Stay Organized. Task driven. Lists daily, The ability to achieve tasks daily, and move forward daily.

People, Processes and Service. Think in terms of processes that are replicatable. The mark of a great organization. Think processes that are Specific, methodical & consistent.

Excellent Communication. Communicate clearly & simply. Think in terms of sound bites, not pontification. Be black and white, not grey. People want to have a “specific and clear” understanding of expectations.

A Great Storyteller. Great leaders have a much higher than average ability to tell captivating stories and “sell” their ideas to others.

Think Performance Metrics. Measure against these regularly. Are you achieving your goals, performance? This should personal, not only business.

Mindful of Financial Impact. They think in terms of impact of decision-making on financial metrics ( such as; profitability, ROI, costs, customer acquisition/sales development time & costs, payroll & related costs, cost of borrowing money, what if financial scenarios.

Self Disciplined to do the Work Needed. Even if they don’t feel like it. Startups require a minimum of 14 hours a day. Get up early, write your daily list, then spend the rest of your day achieving – and do the less exciting tasks early, to ensure they get done.

Quality Orientated. They think constantly about the customer’s perception of value and quality. Always at the center of every decision is how to create “value through quality.”

Steward Leadership. Putting others interests first. Selfless with the main focus upon making the team better. Your success must come from the vision and accomplishment of your team. Put your team in the spotlight, give them the credit.

Improve Lives. Think in terms of everything you do, in terms of improving the lives of every stakeholder (your people, your clients, their people, your vendors, etc).

Giving Back. They think in terms of how their organization & resources can contribute positively to the world as a whole.

Are Good Listeners Who Stay in the Moment. They listen well, analyze the discussion rapidly, and listen first to all sides (give people a voice), but then make a decision based on the best facts available.

Create Customers. Every action in your company must be geared towards creating customers. If it does not, eliminate it.

Prepared to Lead Change. Change is a constant, but is difficult to manage. Great leaders accept that change is inevitable, embrace change, and manage it daily. Most people (employees) don’t like change. Help them understand how to adapt when needed.

Leadership and Team Building. Build/create a team of leaders. Hire the best people. Give them “specific” responsibilities. Mentor them constantly. Help them become successful.

Are Available. Make a commitment to get back to people quickly. Be respectful of others needs and time. Be involved. Manage by walking around daily.

Peter Ashworth is Founder and CEO of BrightCoach, a global Coaching company dedicated to helping its clients achieve their desired personal and business goals. He is also a Life Coach, Executive Coach, Public Speaker, Artist and Entrepreneur. He has worked with hundreds of business leaders, from the Fortune 100 to small and medium company’s in many countries. He can be reached at peter@bright.coach .