Group WorkingDo you have what it takes to be a leader? Of course, you do! 

If you have the desire, then you have what it takes. Nobody is BORN a leader, even if it sometimes seems that way. That’s mostly a comic book myth! 

People become leaders because they want to. They have the desire first, then they learn what leadership is all about, and then they develop the skills.

So, you might not actually possess leadership skills at this very second, but you learn. Not to get too cliché on you, but where there is a will, there is always a way! 


What Does A Leader Act Like?

Let’s talk first about what personality traits are common in leaders.  No two people are exactly alike of course, and there are different leadership styles, but there are traits almost all good leaders have.  Here is a list of the top 10 traits leaders demonstrate.

  1. Self-confident, (but not arrogant!)
  2. Capacity to make tough choices
  3. Willingness to work hard
  4. Willingness to sacrifice
  5. Goal-Oriented
  6. Ability to communicate well
  7. Ability to empathize with others
  8. Calm under pressure
  9. Strength of character, integrity
  10. Possesses the necessary knowledge of the field

If you read that list and think: “hey, my last boss was nothing like that! He was an arrogant fool!”  you won’t be the only one. We’re talking about good leaders here. Plenty of unworthy people reach leadership positions for one reason or another, but most of them won’t last. 

Let’s take these 10 traits and discuss them one by one. 

Self-confident but not arrogant is first on the list for a reason. If someone does not have inner confidence, then leadership is going to be quite difficult. A good leader believes in themselves and can instill that confidence in others.

An arrogant person can never truly be a good leader. In fact, arrogant people who somehow rise to leadership positions often breed animosity and resentment in the team, which is the exact opposite of what a good leader does.  


Good Leaders are Not Wishy-Washy!

An insecure person is not going to be able to make tough decisions, the second leadership trait on the list.  A good leader has to have both the know-how and the confidence to make good decisions, especially when the going gets tough.  

This does not always mean they are going to be right of course. No one is right 100% of the time, but decisions need to be made. No one gets anywhere by being afraid to move forward.  Caution is one thing and is usually warranted, but indecisiveness is the mark of ineffectual leadership and it’s impossible to hide. 


Work Hard and Sacrifice

I remember one boss I had who sat on his tooshie all day, feet propped on the desk, reading stuff that was not even remotely related to what we were doing. He was about as popular as dog poo on your shoe. He wasn’t a good leader at all. 

If a leader expects people under them to work hard, they’d better be willing to work even harder.  Team members look up to someone who gets in the trenches! Hard work and sacrifice on your part will go a long way toward inspiring others. 



A good leader knows where the group has been and where it is going. The leader is usually the one who sets the goals. Once set, the leader needs to develop a step-by-step plan to get there. A good leader is always thinking about the end goal, always. Every decision needs to be viewed through the filter of the end goal. 


Ability to Communicate and Empathize With Others

One of the most common tasks of any leader is to communicate goals, tasks, and directions clearly, so people understand exactly what is expected of them. A good leader needs to know how to speak appropriately to all kinds of different people: customers, competitors, employees, regulators, maybe even the media.  The buck stops with the leader. 

Part of being able to communicate well with people is the ability to empathize. To empathize with someone is to identify with them, and understand – or at least respect, how they feel. 

Good communication skills often boil down to having an empathetic nature. People who are truly empathetic can simply read other people better.  This means they can better customize whatever needs to be said directly to them, which greatly increases the odds of success.


Stay Calm and Carry On! 

This is a biggie. The ability to stay calm when the world is falling down around you is one of the most important, and honestly, one of the hardest traits on the list to develop. No one makes good decisions if they are in a panic. And panic is contagious. If the leader panics, soon everybody else will too. 

The next trait on the list, integrity, and strength of character, relate heavily to the ability to stay calm. Strong people who are confident they’ve truly handled the situation with honesty and integrity simply won’t feel the same kind of panic of someone who knows they’ve blown it in a way that might expose them as dishonest. 

In addition to that, a good leader is expected to be honest and all eyes are upon you. Exposing yourself as a person with little integrity is going to count against you big time if you are in a leadership position. A good leader is trustworthy, no exceptions! 


Know Your Stuff

A good leader is someone who knows the industry they are in extremely well. The more knowledgeable, the better. This is actually one of the easiest traits to develop if you are not already there. 

Study your industry. Subscribe to professional journals. Join networking groups. There are a lot of ways to increase your professional knowledge. Look for some training or continuing education, even if it is not mandatory. Leaders take it upon themselves to improve; they don’t wait to be told! 

For example, work toward improving your software and computing skills. Virtually every single job in the world requires you to know specialized software. The vast majority of companies use SAP. You can find SAP training online. Take a look at this long list of SAP courses available. More than likely, some of them would fit right in with your job duties. 

If your goal is to work into a leadership position, then learning SAP, and even being able to help others with it, is one of the best things you could do. You will naturally drift into a leadership role if you demonstrate superior skills.  (Just don’t be arrogant about it.)   

Leaders define their own goals and then push themselves to go for it. The more you can demonstrate this type of drive, the more knowledge and competency you acquire, the more people will automatically look to you for leadership. You won’t even have to ask!   

Review the list of 10 traits again and set some goals. You can do it! 

Author Photo

Lorraine Grula is a curious and compassionate Okie native who grew up on politics and science. She loves to read, write and study the world and shares her insights in our blog.
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