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Moving from Good to Great: The Characteristics of a Leader

Charactersitics of a leader

Characteristics of a leader

The characteristics of a leader contribute to their success or demise.  If you were to take these characteristics of a good leader and classify them, they would fall into one of three areas.  According to research by Al Gini and Ronald M. Green, the three critical characteristics of leadership are character, stewardship, and experience.

There is no particular recipe for leadership success or failure.  While some industries may demand a specific skill set or place significance on individual elements of leadership, it is not the same across the board.  The skills necessary to be a successful leader in the healthcare field will be different from those necessary for education or construction.  Ultimately, the characteristics of a leader capable of achieving success are fluid or always changing.

If you were to freeze the clock at a given moment, analyzing a small industry, you might be able to find traits that current leaders possess.  Moving ahead to a different era you may see similar results with slight deviations.

Why do characteristics of a good leader change?

Leadership skills capable of generating great results allowing a company to move from good to great occurs because of changes in the industry.

Three major areas that force change is:

  1. Technology

Even industries that are thought to be boring, slow, and dull can benefit from innovative ideas.  Innovation forces leaders to rethink their systems and processes.  These technological shifts force leaders who were previously successful in situations that they may find uncomfortable and challenging.  Conversely, these predicaments are opportunities for new leaders to emerge that possess a different skill set.

  1. Customer Demands

All businesses have customers they are trying to serve.  Those companies who fail to listen to their customer needs can lose business.  As a leader, it is imperative to not only listen to the messages from your clients but also respond.  Leaders who find themselves unable to make changes as necessary will surely find themselves searching for other opportunities outside their existing company.

  1. The Next Generation

The next generation also encourages leaders to consider their strengths and weaknesses.  Your characteristics and approaches that allowed you to connect with workers in the past may no longer be well received.  The next generation will make you examine your style and adapt in new ways.

The Journey of the Hero

As followers, we tend to see leaders as idols, somebody to put on a pedestal.  Leaders are individuals we model ourselves after in hopes of reaching that same accomplishment level.  We want to dream of being the next great idol, serving as role model for others.  This is the result of pushing ourselves and others to achieve great feats.

Keep in mind that no great leader assumes that role overnight.  The characteristics of a leader that put us in the limelight are the same ones that others are analyzing and dissecting.  People admire leaders just as much as they analyze and deconstruct their abilities.

Joseph Campell, an anthropologist, studying the influence of the hero’s quest suggests that groups, no matter their place in history has pursued the notion of the hero.  According to this perspective, it is okay to evaluate the characteristics of a leader and substitute their place in exchange for the hero.

The search for what comprise the characteristics of a leader is necessary.  For example, there are 176,496 book results about leadership appearing on Amazon alone.

Additional research shows:

18 Characteristics of a Good Leader Charactersitics of a leader Characteristics of a good LeaderCharacteristics of a good Leader

Emotional Stability

This aspect is critical to controlling the attitude around the workplace.  A leader who visibly display emotional swings can act as a catalyst for confusion, paranoia, and frustration of workers making leadership a challenging endeavor. Characteristics of a good Leader


A good leader will not only push themselves to reach high standards but encourage and motivate their followers for better results.


It is important to gather information, analyze the data, and make a decision.  You will not always have all the information or the most recent data for that matter.  You need to listen to your gut instinct, make a decision, and stick by it long enough to see if it works.  Upon reevaluation of the problem considering making amendments to the plan.


Followers want to pursue a path and direction that does not appear risky, dangerous, or treacherous.  Even if this path is bound to encounter challenges and hurdles, followers need reassurance.  One of the manners that leaders can offer this reassurance is through assertiveness.


A leader’s intuition stems from their knowledge and or experience.  A leader who has a background in a situation will find it easier to acquire trust and confidence in those they lead.


Any chance a follower will support an individual who appears wishy-washy or unsure of themselves.  Why you may think the answer is no, you are correct to some extent.  Followers may follower a leader for a brief period if the person is new to problem or predicament.  However, this patience is not unending.  A leader must gain the confidence of their peers by taking intentional or deliberate actions.

High Standards

A leader who allows themselves or others to drift will eventually discover deteriorating performance over time.  The key to establishing high standards is through consistency over time.  A leader who continually reminds their team of organizational goals is more apt to find success in the long run.

Tough Minded

Competition along with internal and external forces shape corporate operations.  Leaders to need to be tough-minded to overcome obstacles.  When challenges arise, leaders cannot get down on themselves or the team.  Instead, a person in this position must encourage and motivate others so that they proceed taking one step at a time.


Confidence is a fundamental component to anyone in a leadership role.  If you ask an individual what is leadership?  You will find that the person must be confident and not only believe in their abilities but the skills and attributes of team members.


Displaying energy and enthusiasm is not an easy chore for many people especially those who are introverts.  It is possible to succeed without visual demonstrations of energy toward solving a problem.  Possessing power allows you to follow the organizational mission with less resistance.  It helps you get up in the morning with excitement and preparedness to tackle the problems of the day.


Leaders who retaliate and fail to maintain their composure soon learn there is no one to lead.  The maturity of a leader accompanies many of these other leadership skills.

Team Oriented

While there is no I in the team, there is also no I in leadership.  The premise of leadership rests on the notion that individuals are ready to follow, help, and contribute to your vision.  Leaders who listen and respect their team will be able to achieve greater results that had they done things and taken actions on their own.


One of the characteristics of a leader is the ability to connect with those they lead on an emotional level.  This emotional connection is empathy.  Faking empathy will not endure you to others.  Individuals can see right through a person who is fake and is not an authentic leader.


Leadership in managing others occurs from the capacity to transfer authority.  Delegation contributes to leadership in some ways.  First, delegation allows leaders to focus on other tasks that team leaders may not be ready to accept or lack the necessary skills.  Second, delegation allows members of the team to gain confidence and develop their leadership abilities.  Delegation is a double-edged sword that can help the leader and other contributors when done well.


A leader without good communication is a mime trapped in a box.  Leadership begins with the ability to identify and communicate their mission and vision.  This connection extends to conversing with organizational members to set and achieve daily goals and objectives.  It is necessary for holding members accountable for their progress.  Although a good leader may not have to be statesmen, they need to form their message in a manner that is well received.


Is a leader capable of serving in this role without having any commitment?  A leader can be a substitute who may support the overall organizational values.  At a division level, they are still able to be functional without remaining committed or possessing a full understanding of these standards.  However, if a leader is in a long term permanent position they must find conviction and commit to the team and goals that lay ahead.

Positive Attitude

Why is that some work environments are more enjoyable than others?  One of the ways to establish a great working environment is through proper staffing.  Staffing starts with assembling a team with a leader who has a great can-do attitude that is capable of motivating their team.  Often followers resemble others inside the organization because they mesh well together and share many similar traits.


Leaders who take the time to understand the internal motivators of their team members are more likely to achieve great results.  This occurs because leaders can tap into these intrinsic motivators and help their followers connect the dots between performance drivers and achievement.

This list of characteristics of a good leader will help guide you in your personal development.


14 Leadership Traits USMC Teaches You

Leadership Traits USMC Offer

There are a number of leadership traits USMC exemplifies. Committing to the United States Marine Corps is a minimum two-year commitment. In that period, you will learn about the 14 leadership traits USMC prioritizes.

You can learn and develop these skills on your own. Yet, entering the USMC will allow you access to a number of jobs unavailable to those outside the military. These skills will also be relevant and appealing if you choose to pursue a career elsewhere.


Justice is the consistent practice of fairness. To be just, you need to consider alternative perspectives on a topic. When you analyze a situation from multiple views, you are removing bias. When you remove bias, you are able to address challenges with a clear head. You are also able to be equitable. Providing equity refers to treating individuals based on their contributions. Treatment can occur in the form of rewards and punishment.


Good judgement comes when you are not rash but rather when you have the capacity to think clearly. You start with an understanding and grasp of problems. From this point, you are able to recognize possible solutions to the problem. Each alternative offers an equal positive or negative reaction. When exercising judgement, you consider the outcomes. Finally, upon reviewing the problem and solution consequences, you make a choice.


An individual, who is dependable, is capable of performing duties at or above a specific standard. Dependable individuals have the capability to form strong bonds with their peers. This bond is the result of trust between the two parties.

Dependability is the product of holding your commitments. Your word becomes your bond.


Integrity is not lying. When asked questions you respond truthfully at all times. Individuals with high levels of integrity understand their guiding principles, morals, as well as ethics and do not deviate from these standards. Precarious or dangerous situations are not allowances to modify your beliefs.


Decisiveness is the aptitude for making intelligent decisions quickly. Decisiveness is not simply just making rash decisions. Decisiveness is the result of creating awareness and thinking proactively so that when the time comes you are able to make smart choices. This attribute is particularly beneficial in high stress environments. The environment does not phase you, as you think rationally and calmly.


Tact is another way to say, treat others, as you want to be treated. You focus on building relationships by addressing others professionally, knowing that people have a manner of providing value at different times and in unique situations. You treat other respectfully today because you want a strong working relationship tomorrow.


Initiative is the willingness to take action on your own. Individuals who show initiative do not wait to receive directions. Rather these individuals proceed to take steps to address the current or impending situation. They are able to read the proverbial tealeaves. They do this by creating awareness for their environment using available data, interactions with others, in addition to their own intuition.


Endurance comes in two forms. First, endurance commonly refers to the ability to keep going physically. For example, physical endurance could describe a marathon runner. Secondly, endurance can pertain to mental acuteness or sharpness.

Endurance is one of the most common leadership traits of the USMS thought of by people in civilian life. Civilians consider the USMC to be a grueling experience. To survive in this environment, you need to be able to withstand the daily challenges and build your toughness resulting in grit.


Bearing is the outward appearance as seen by others. Bearing is ability to present oneself in a respectable manner. There is an understanding that the appearance of the individuals mirrors not just the sole individual but also the team.


One of the leadership traits USMC instills is unselfishness. Unselfishness is the prioritizing the good of the team. In everything you do, you should consider the impact and the consequence your actions have on the ability of others to do their jobs. Unselfish leaders do not seek praise and recognition. When they receive credit and gratitude, they mention those individuals who made their success possible.


Courage comes in many forms. Each instance contains the element of fear, anxiety, or distress. As a leader, you need to develop the asset of being morally courageous. Moral courage applies when something arises that is in direct opposition to your morals, you are able to voice your concerns. Physical courage occurs when yare are able to face fear and still take action. You are no debilitated or frozen at the presence of fear. You have an understanding that fear can only stop you if you let it.


Knowledge is the derivative of understanding a subject in depth. Understanding of a subject is the result of being informed of facts, information, as well as experience. Combing these sources allows you to be educated and well versed. Those individuals who choose not to expose themselves to an array of topics are less cultured and able to contribute to the development and progress of the team.


Loyalty means showing devotion, support, or allegiance. The USMC teaches you to trust and have faith in others including senior commanders, juniors or subordinates, in addition to other associates.

Loyalty is the result of trust. Anything you do to break or mistreat that trust leads to concerns and questions about your loyalty.


Enthusiasm is more than just a positive outlook. Energy plus excitement equal enthusiasm. Enthusiastic individuals are grateful and happier than those who are pessimistic. When you have a grasp on your responsibilities and the contributions you provide to the organizational vision, you will have a great aptitude to demonstrate your enthusiasm.

These 14 mannerisms can be developed over time in a variety of settings. You will be sure to learn the leadership traits USMC teaches you.

5 Leadership Training Topics to Empower Your Team

Leadership Training Topics

There are many different leadership training topics.  As a leader, you need to take the time to get to know your team and understand their needs.  Knowing your team dictates how different leadership training topics will be received.

The importance of training topics is always fluid.  Each day bring new challenges and with it comes different priorities.  If the leadership training topic does not match the issues facing others, it will not be well received.

For example, training that that touches on an unrelated topic will lead to frustrations.  When your team members attend this learning opportunity there mind will likely be elsewhere.

This means that a person could receive benefit, but the value will likely be minimal.  New ideas will likely be irrelevant if they cannot be applied.

Topics that match problems are more welcoming to training around this topic.  Applicability of training provides motivation to attend and remain open during the material delivery.

All this leads to two considerations for before choosing a training topic.  Select leadership training topics by:

  1. Consider the problems your team is facing
  2. Think about the application of the lessons
  3. Inform your team of the benefits of the training discussion

Common Leadership Training Topics


Effective communication is an area that individuals can always devote time.  Internal communication consists of spoken and written dialogue to team members.  External communication consists of enhancing customer service skills.

Both forms of communication are vital to the success of the organization. Training opportunities to allow others to practice delivering difficult messages.

These sessions help others to internalize the struggles of other team members.  Stressful situations united individuals especially when they are sharing the same organizational vision.  As a result, team cohesion ensues as people gain a deeper appreciation for one another.

These types of meetings allow individuals to collaborate.  Bringing individuals together from other areas provides the chance for new interactions and relationships.  Communication allows different people to work together to develop innovative solutions.

Conflict Resolution

Closely tied to communication is conflict resolution.  Individuals who face stress may not always respond appropriately.  The severity of this inappropriate response is multiplied when working with customers.

Training sessions that deal with conflict resolution should address stress management.

There are a number of techniques to manage stress.  Some approaches are better for others given a situation.  Therefore, a variety of approaches should be delivered with the opportunity to use them.  Role-playing allows individuals to see how these approaches may apply in context.

Performance Reviews and Feedback

One of the common leadership training topics is performance reviews and feedback.  Many organizations have periodic performance reviews.  One review is usually for the state and health of the organization.  Another review is for individual performance.

Often organizational performance reviews include time to complete a survey.  This survey helps acquire information in a 360-degree manner.  When combining different sources for review, leaders can identify problematic areas.

Upon identification of these problematic areas, leaders can develop action plans necessary for improvement.  When you are in a leadership role, you may find you suffer from tunnel vision.  You see what you want to see.  As a result, you can be a disillusioned leader.

It is important to call upon different sources of information to form your opinions.  To understand your performance you should compare your results to the results of others.  By forming comparisons, you are able to benchmark your progress.

Leadership training is also the time to get and provide individual performance reviews.  Typically, these occur in a one on one meeting with a senior leader.  This is an opportunity to identify your strengths and weaknesses as others see you.

Individual feedback can be difficult to stomach, whether delivering or receiving the feedback.  It is important to be honest with one another and allow the other person to speak freely.  After delivering or receiving the message, allow the other person to speak and ask questions.

Decision Making

Decision-making is an overarching theme that includes diverse subtopics.  When offering training around decision making consider common organizational problems and pitfalls.

Individuals can learn about this topic through different mediums.  For this reason, consider your audience when delivering the material.  Provide opportunities for team members to practice newly gained insight.  Finally, connect decision-making topics with organizational goals, vision, and mission.

Skill Development

Leadership games can be used for training and developing your followers around specific skills.  Skill development is the time to engage people, relieve stress, let your guard down a bit, and have fun.

Customer feedback is a rich source of ideas to help select a skill for improvement.  Discover opportunities for skill development by analyzing your competitors and using organizational feedback.


There are many leadership training topics you can explore.  Remember to consider your audience and relate the material to their needs.  Comment about your last leadership training exercise and the value that it provided.