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General personality traits

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Dwight D Eisenhower said, “The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.”

Everyone is unique and has their own personality traits which make them great leaders. The personality traits can be broken down into groups or categories; general personality traits and task related traits.

General personality traits can be observed by both inside and out of the course and scope of work. This translates to what makes the leader a success can be used in not only their profession, but their personal life as well. The figure below, taken from the textbook indicate the general personality traits which constitute a successful leader.

Figure 2.1 General Personality Traits of Effective Leaders
Within the figure above are eight general personality traits of effective leaders. The first of which is self-confidence.
Self-confidence is an admirable trait of a great and effective leader. A self-confident leader has a sort of charisma that portrayed through self-confidence by motivating their subordinates. Such a trait could be used to make fast decisions and has the ability to remain calm in a situation which is less than ideal. An effective leader with self-confidence could have the ability to bring a team together in a crisis type situation, motivating and working together to achieve an optimal outcome.

Humility is an important trait to exhibit to your coworkers as well. By allowing your coworkers to see a side of you which shows you are human and you make mistakes is important for cohesiveness within your group. In the words of C.S. Lewis, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”3 Being humble at the right time is key. For example, if you receive accolades for your work on a particular project, have the humility to know and admit it was not just your work but the work of your coworkers as well.

Trustworthy leaders must not only talk the talk, but walk the walk. If your coworkers cannot trust you, they will not put forth their best work. Per the merriam-webster dictionary, trust is defined as, “Belief that someone or something is reliable, good, and honest, effective, etc.”4 Be honest with your coworkers and they will be honest with you. Also, maintaining integrity will help you build a long lasting trusting relationship with your coworkers as well. Always tell the truth; somehow this is always the best course of action.

Authenticity is being open and honest about your intentions, values, and personality with your coworker. For example, don’t try to be someone you are not, your authenticity and values will always prevail over what you think others should perceive of you. Creating a long-term and open relationship with your coworkers will prove to be the best course of action.

Extraversion is the ability to be open and outgoing with your coworkers. You must be able to have a conversation with your coworkers. Such as; it is Friday and your coworkers are leaving for the weekend, you should stop what you are doing and make an effort to say, have a great weekend, making that extra effort to be friendly.

Assertiveness is where others know your stance on leadership and has some similarity to being an extravert. Setting goals and making sure those goals are carried out is achievable by being assertive about your coworkers reaching and obtaining those goals. By letting your coworkers know of your expectations of their performance and goals, you can achieve those goals.

Enthusiasm, optimism, and warmth is a desirable trait for an effective leader. Building good and long-lasting relationships with your coworkers is the desired outcome of an effective leader. Verbal and non-verbal gestures are both welcome and encouraged. Coworkers are looking to their leaders for guidance, optimism and enthusiasm in which to inspire them. Projecting a warm personality will help you establish a rapport with your coworkers. With warmth comes charisma and support.

Have a sense of humor. Humor adds a sense of stress relief to sometimes an otherwise stressful situation. Humor can decrease boredom, defuse hostility and decrease tension. However, do not be aggressive or demeaning when using a sense of humor as it may show victimization or cause a negative outcome and or create a hostile work environment. Task-related personality traits of leaders

Passion for your work is normally considered a dominant feature of an effective leader. An individual with an extreme passion works outside the normal work hours in the office, then also works outside the office. Caution should be used when having an extreme passion, as it can lead to burnout and or causing interference with an individual’s personal life. Passion for the job or task at hand can be in the favor of the individual as they are often entrepreneurs.

Emotional Intelligence can be considered related to other general personality traits. You must able to understand the feelings you are having, while having appreciation of others situations, while being able to control those emotions and feelings. While you can have intelligence, a college education, and excellent training, you will need emotional intelligence to become and effective leader. For example, an individual may need time off from work due to needing to put their grandfather in an assisted living facility, this would constitute emotionally intelligence using empathy and allowing that individual the time off they need to take care of this personal matter. An effective leader who knows how to control their emotions, can show empathy and being able to personally relate to that individual will be the most successful and effective leader.

Flexibility and adaptability is another trait of an effective leader. A leader must be able to handle changes such as a merger, a reduction in force, outsourcing, and a change in customer base. An effective leader has the ability to change, adapt and grow with the company.

An internal locus of control is closely related to self-confidence. An internal leader is one who is powerful due to the fact they can internalize a situation, rather than externalize because they will take responsibility for the task at hand.

Courage is taking a leap of faith, when there is uncertainty. For example, when Steve Jobs opened the Apple stores when others did not see a future, they were a resounding success. Putting your heart and soul into a project and facing the consequences should that endeavor fail is courage and responsibility. Courage is risk, and does not see its fruition without gambling on the outcome.

Leadership styles of effective leaders.
Participative leadership is working within the group or working together as a team. Consulting and working within the group to obtain a consensus for a successful outcome and by accepting suggestions from the group, the group has a better idea of what the outcome of the final project will be. According to research, “Poor performing teams are often dominated by the team leader, whereas high-performing teams are characterized by shared leadership.”

Autocratic leadership is the opposite of a participative leader. The autocratic leader is focused solely on the task at hand and is not concerned with the suggestions of other team members. They are often assertive and have been known to serve as a model for the team members. Case in point, Chrysler CEO, Bob Nardelli was a hatchet-type personality, who lost 100% of his top managers due to his bullish behavior. Nardelli had to change his leadership style and become more conciliatory.

Entrepreneurial leadership is whereby a leader excels at driving themselves and they are generally task-oriented. They also tend to be charismatic leaders who have a strong achievement drive and takes risks. Entrepreneurial leaders also act swiftly when an opportunity may arise, while being considered to in a hurry, also coupled with impatience. They are also considered to be visionaries, and dislike bureaucracy. Lastly, they would rather deal with external customers, while keeping an eye on the future.

Studies suggest there is not one best leadership style to adapt. The most effective leadership style to adopt is one in which gets results. Some highly successful leaders are those who in which use different styles to achieve the desired result. Making and maintaining long-term relationships, while achieving the desired goal is what is most important.

To summarize, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” John Quincy Adams


Eisenhower, D. (n.d.). Dwight D. Eisenhower Quotes. Retrieved February 22, 2015, from http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/d/dwight_d_eisenhower.html

Dubrin, A. (2010). Traits, Motives, and Characteristics of Leaders. In Leadership: Research Findings, Practice, and Skills (6th ed., p. 34). Jack Calhoun.

Lewis, C. (n.d.). 15 Quotes That Remind Us of The Awesome Power of Humility. Retrieved February 22, 2015, from http://www.inc.com/dave-kerpen/15-quotes-that-remind-us-of-the-awesome-power-of-humility.html

(n.d.). Retrieved February 22, 2015, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/trust

Dubrin, A. (2010). Leadership behaviors, Attitude, and Styles. In Leadership: Research Findings, Practice, and Skills (6th ed., p. 113). Jack Calhoun.

7 Effective Leadership Quotes To Live By | AboutLeaders.com. (2014, March 11). Retrieved February 22, 2015, from http://www.aboutleaders.com/7-effective-leadership-quotes

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