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What are the characteristics of a good leader – Infographic
Thursday, September 19, 2013
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(from leadingeffectively.com)—Leaders shape our nation, communities, and organizations. We are in need of good leaders to help guide us and make the essential large-scale decisions that keep the world moving. Our society is always quick to identify a bad leader, but can most people identify a good one?   What would most people say makes a good leader?

In our infographic below, I wanted to tackle (as best I could) a complex and often controversial question: What are the characteristics of a good leader? This question kept appearing in my initial investigation into a potential topic for the infographic. In this preliminary research, I wanted to cover up-to-date topics surrounding the field of leadership in the US that correlate with the subject matter of Norwich University’s Master of Science in Leadership Program.

After examining the resources available across the web, I settled on a handful of informative articles from sites such as The Harvard Business Review and Forbes. With the help of these key publications, along with assistance from university staff, we determined that we should spearhead one of the hardest questions to answer: what makes an effective leader?  Not only that, but how do you become an effective leader?  Our goal with this infographic was provide a resource that compiles these questions into one place so that current and future leaders will find it both interesting and educational.

While there are many forms of leadership that each come with a slew of personality traits, we determined, through research and university feedback, a list of ten consistent traits that great leaders leverage. These include:

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  • honesty
  • ability to delegate
  • communication
  • sense of humor
  • confidence
  • commitment
  • positive attitude
  • creativity
  • ability to inspire
  • intuition

We must keep in mind that there are many powerful and successful leaders that have not exhibited all of these character traits and that the definition of a good leader is quite ambiguous.   It can be determined, however, that most good leaders do leverage most of these characteristics.  Take someone you view as a great leader – how many of these characteristics do they express?
If the characteristics of a good leader above do not describe you, there are ways for you to improve upon your leadership capabilities.  Many say leaders are born not made, but we feel that is far from the truth.  They are molded through experience, continued study, and adaptation.   Andrew Graham, CEO of Forum Corp, notes “If you do not see these signs in yourself, fear not – It is all about getting yourself in a better frame of mind and looking at the bigger picture to get your over the neurological hurdles that hold you back from being a great leader.”

Like any craft, you must learn from your mistakes and continually work at strengthening areas in which you’re weak.  My advice: seek out a mentor that you admire as a leader.  Jot down the characteristics that you feel makes them a great leader – how do you compare?  Chances are they weren’t always a great leader, so it’s your job to determine what they did along the way to be the leader they are today.

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About the Author
The Association for Talent Development (ATD) is a professional membership organization supporting those who develop the knowledge and skills of employees in organizations around the world. The ATD Staff, along with a worldwide network of volunteers work to empower professionals to develop talent in the workplace.
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