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6 Vital Leadership Characteristics

Duncan Brodie

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Questions are often asked about whether leaders are born or whether they can be developed. My own view is that anyone who has the desire and is willing to do the work can become a great leader. At the same time there are certain characteristics or qualities that are vital in leaders.

Characteristic 1: Enthusiasm

Those that succeed as leaders are enthusiastic and upbeat. They know that they might not have everyone on board with all of their ideas, that they might not have all of the skills or the knowledge they need. They are however highly positive and know that there is a solution to obstacles that arise. They just need to find it. One of the real benefits of being enthusiastic and positive is that it is infectious. Who would you rather be around- a leader who is upbeat and positive or a leader who is negative and pessimistic?

Characteristic 2: Integrity

Personal integrity is the second vital leadership characteristic. Leaders with integrity set the tone in terms of expectations of how they will behave themselves and how others behave. Another way of looking at integrity is professionalism. The acid test in terms of integrity is whether what you are planning to do will stand the test of public scrutiny.

Characteristic 3: Warmth

Inclusion of warmth in a list of leadership characteristics might seem strange. People often confuse warmth with being soft. In truth leaders can be considerate of others, show empathy and at the same time be the person who makes the tough calls.

Characteristic 4: Courage

Read the autobiographies of successful people and a trend that you will continually identify is that they were people with courage. They are willing to go and try things and take risks. Where do you sit on the risk continuum?

Characteristic 5: Judgement

While leaders are courageous they are not reckless. They weigh up the pros and cons and take balanced risks. Judgement is all about make the best decision you can with the information you have available.

Characteristic 6: Tough but fair

Leaders recognise that they cannot be popular all of the time. They know that they need to make tough decisions from time to time. They take the tough decisions and at the same time will seek to act fairly.

Leadership characteristics take time to develop. So what leadership characteristic could you start working on to achieve greater success?

Duncan Brodie of Goals and Achievements (G&A) works with individuals, teams and organisations to develop their management and leadership capability.

With 25 years business experience in a range of sectors, he understands first hand the real challenges of managing and leading in the demanding business world.

You can learn more about Duncan, Goals and Achievements services and products and sign up for his free e-course and newsletter at


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