Revealed: The Top 3 Traits of Effective Leaders


What is it about great leaders that set them apart? What takes them from ordinary to extraordinary?

Sunnie Giles, an organizational scientist, executive coach, and leadership development consultant, recently set out to discover what makes an effective leader. After studying 195 leaders in 30 global organizations across 15 countries, she summed up her results in an article for the Harvard Business Review.

Here’s a quick look at the top three leadership traits identified in Giles’s research.

1. Leaders have integrity. Possessing high ethical and moral standards is the No. 1 most important leadership competency, according to respondents in Giles’s study. When combined with the ability to communicate effectively, successful leaders create safe and trusting environments where engagement, innovation, and creativity can flourish.

2. Leaders empower others. The ability to empower people with the resources, support, and encouragement to tackle challenges and achieve goals is essential. This includes creating environments in which everyone can do their best work. Giles notes that “research has repeatedly shown that empowered teams are more productive and proactive, provide better customer service, and show higher levels of job satisfaction and commitment to their team and organization.”

3. Leaders communicate effectively. Great leaders communicate often and openly, laying out a clear vision and setting specific goals. They speak plainly and are consistent with their messages. Not only does effective communication help avoid unexpected surprise, frustration, and ambiguity, it also builds transparency and trust.

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