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5 Key Attributes of Effective Leaders

Often times we may think of leaders as relating to one’s professional life; however, leadership extends beyond work and leaders can be found in all areas of life. Every role we play in life can involve leadership and everyone has the ability to develop leadership skills. From the C.E.O. leading her team to the parent managing his home; leadership behaviors are important in promoting growth, success, and enhancing life experiences. So what is leadership? And what is needed to be an effective leader?

Leadership is a life skill we start learning early on and develops through the experiences we encounter. It is this lifelong learning process that helps us guide and influence others towards accomplishing a common task. Historically, the concept of leadership has involved the idea that to be an effective leader we must be dictatorial and authoritarian. However, today we understand the need for leaders to move away from a controlling style of leading and towards a more flexible approach in order to inspire others. Although research has not yet found the ideal formula that leads to effective leadership, studies have identified many skills, such as communication, listening, empathy, and management that are important in effective leadership (Skills). Hence, many of the leadership training and coaching has revolved around cultivating these skills.

While working to improve these skills is important in developing an effective leader; focusing on the internal characteristics needed in leadership is as important. Characteristics that allow us to approach people and situations in a more effective way in order to empower and motivate ourselves and others is imperative to the development of a great leader; regardless of the venue. Therefore, when promoting leadership, we need to look beyond the skills and understand that leadership is also a mind frame and state of being that requires a level of introspection we often do not take the time to engage in. In order to lead others more effectively, we must first have a sense of who we are and engage in self-leadership. Leaders who are able to perform self-leadership and work from the inside out will become more aware of their own thoughts, emotions and actions. This ability will help them grow personally and authentically in order to develop a style that will foster motivation and commitment from others ultimately resulting in accomplishing a common goal. For leaders who want to explore beyond the practical skills of leadership; below are 5 key characteristics that will help you become a more effective leader.

  1. Attitude---Leaders who approach people and situations with an attitude that nothing will stand in their way will be more likely to engage others towards a successful outcome. This type of leadership characteristic provides the view that there is a solution to every problem and that every problem has a solution.

  2. Connectedness---Leaders who lead must form a deep connection with others in order to inspire and motivate the people they are leading. They must present as authentic individuals who truly care and respect others. This deep level of connection will allow leaders to engage others and gain the trust of the people they are leading.

  3. Inspiring---Effective leaders are inspiring because they have the ability to find opportunities when faced with challenges. They approach situations and people based on potential which ultimately empower and create willingness from others.

  4. Intuitive---We often say that effective leaders are visionary; however, in order to have a vision, leaders need intuition. Effective leaders have the ability to feel and connect without the use of reason or judgment. Their ability to be humble motivates others to generate ideas that will lead to cohesiveness and teamwork.

  5. Creative---Creativity is a characteristic that exist in every great leader. Leaders who approach people and situations with creativity are able to view solutions outside of their own paradigm in order to reach a genius outcome. Keep in mind creative leaders have the attitude to connect with others in an intuitive manner in order to inspire unique and ingenious ideas that will lead to visionary results.

Whether we are leading a Fortune 500 company or a little league baseball team, it is important that we practice the critical skills that will make us strong and effective leaders. Skills that include management, communication, empathy, and empowerment are all essential for long term success as a leader. However, to be a great and effective leader we must go beyond these skills and assess how we show up and approach situations and people. Great leaders engage in self-leadership in order to develop the attributes needed to inspire others. Incorporating the 5 key characteristics in your leadership style will move you towards becoming a more effective leadership.

Dr. Maria Dowling holds a doctorate degree in Psychology, Masters in Pharmacology and an MBA. She is a transformational certified Core Energy Coach and ICF certified. Interested in taking your life or company to the next level; contact Dr. Maria @ or visit or website:

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