Emotional Intelligence Employee Engagement Leadership Motivation Teamwork Values and Behaviours

4 key characteristics of effective leaders

I have spent many years working with, observing, teaching and coaching leaders. I have also heard many stories from employees about leaders they have loved to work for and those they have not enjoyed as much. There are some key themes that I have observed in leaders who are highly effective and get the best from people they work with.

1 – They are high achievers themselves and they expect the same from others. These leaders are clear about the vision, the big picture, but also about how to get there. They are self-directed, planners and problem solvers highly capable in both conceptual and analytical thinking. They lead by example and motivate others to set stretch goals. They take calculated risks in achieving their goals and they surround themselves with like-minded, competent high achievers. When you work with this leader the focus is on delivering goals and on excellence.

2 – They have solid self-esteem. They believe in themselves and that they can make a difference. They are change oriented and always looking for new and innovative ways to do things. They are strongly values driven and stand by their values, even in adversity. They are curious about life and approach new ideas and experiences with an open mind. They are accepting of others and value diversity and diverse approaches to problem solving. Because of their open and curious approach, they are often really interesting people – they have life experiences and knowledge that can be inspirational to others.

3 – They grow people. They are great supporters, coaches, mentors and encouragers. They are always looking to help others to be the best they can be. They are insightful, great listeners and ask valuable questions to help people solve their own problems. They are not threatened by the success of others and will celebrate and acknowledge achievements. However, this style is not fluffy. It holds people to account for their learning and development. If someone is not interested in growth this leader moves on to someone who is.

4 – They develop great relationships. They are inclusive, collaborative and highly effective as team players. Usually having wide and highly developed networks, they are always looking to add value to people’s lives. They are warm, friendly and genuinely interested in people. When you work for one of these leaders you know that they care about you as a person.

Now as you can probably see, these styles are not going to be as effective in isolation. It is when you combine them that you get powerful synergy.

Think of a leader who has brought out the best in you. What characteristics did they have?


Rosalind Cardinal is the Principal Consultant of Shaping Change, an Australian consultancy, specialising in improving business outcomes by developing individuals, teams and organisations.

Ros is a solutions and results oriented facilitator and coach, with a career in the Human Resources and Organisational Development field spanning more than 25 years.  Ros brings an energetic and proactive approach combined with a wealth of knowledge and experience. Her expertise spans leadership development, organisational culture, team building, change and transition management, organisational behaviour, employee engagement and motivation, strategic direction and management.

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2 replies on “4 key characteristics of effective leaders”

Hi would you mind sharing which blog platform you’re working with?

I’m looking to start my own blog soon but I’m having a difficult
time choosing between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal.
The reason I ask is because your design seems
different then most blogs and I’m looking for something completely unique.

P.S Apologies for getting off-topic but I had to ask!

Thanks for your inquiry. Our blog is on wordpress. All the best with your own blog!

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