Top 15 Leadership Traits

When I first officially entered the workforce back in the early 1980’s, performance reviews were all the rage. At least annually, I would have to go in for a good old fashioned bloodletting. It was painful. Extremely painful. Management would have me fill out a form in advance of the dreaded “one-on-one” session. My boss would fill one out too. Then at that pre-determined time, I would start the long walk down the narrow hallway to his office. It seemed to be exceptionally long and narrow on review day. I think there may have even been some razor blades sticking out of the wall along the way.

It was gut wrenching. There was always a long list of good and bad projects from the past year which were brought up like they were yesterday. I call this gunny-sacking. Management saved up all the “juicy stuff” from throughout the year and dumped it out of the gunny-sack (figurative burlap bag) onto the desk to dredge through like mucky seaweed in a swamp. They watched it run through their fingers while I twisted and turned in my chair, hoping somehow the building would catch on fire and we would have to evacuate. My palms are sweating just thinking about it!

Man am I glad those days are gone! Hopefully most companies have thrown out the annual performance review by now. However, with the review system out the window, how does a leader get any “real” feedback on their performance? Can they rely solely on their Board of Directors for feedback?

Simple. Ask. That’s it. Ask for feedback.

Tip number one; don’t surround yourself with “Yes” men/women. They will not take the following process seriously and can cause harm to your organization by saying what they think you want to hear instead of what you really need to hear.

Tip number two; ask several people for feedback from a variety of roles including supervisors, subordinates and peers.

Tip number three; go through the following list yourself and use it routinely as a checklist for leadership.

Although this kind of questionnaire can be tailored to the specific role, expectations and company culture, the following list of our top 15 leadership traits should get the ball rolling. This can be done as a yes/no survey, or a 1-5 ranking, or a variety of other open ended questions.

Leadership Traits

  1. Has clearly defined vision for team
  2. Has set roles and responsibilities for team members
  3. Maintains effective performance feedback for team members
  4. Understands the market for compensation and performance for roles within team
  5. Develops team members for future roles, not just the current role
  6. Uses key business metrics to manage team
  7. Effectively communicates status of the company
  8. Takes a positive, can do, optimistic attitude
  9. Shows dedication to success of company, even during adversity
  10. Treats information with confidentiality, including not sharing internal information with customers
  11. Makes prudent business decisions
  12. Displays a sense of urgency to customer needs
  13. Understands and evaluates the financial impacts of decisions
  14. Knows industry and technical specifics of his or her role
  15. Continues to study and learn more about the industry and how products fit within the marketplace

Photo credit to Ideadad

If you need help thinking through this or other leadership challenges, let’s have a discussion to see if I can help in some way.

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