After three years at Penn State and two in the PLA,how would you now define the traits of an effective leader?
Extensive discussion, research, and studying have gone into understanding the traits of an effectiveleader. Some of the conclusions agree with each other, but overall, results seem to indicate that there isno particular set of traits that will inevitably make the person possessing them become a leader.Instead, the specific environment into which a person is placed essentially chooses the leader suited for
it. If that person’s unique combination of traits fit the situation, they
have the opportunity to becomean effective leader.Notably, effectiveness says nothing about morality; some highly effective leaders have beenextraordinarily greedy and manipulative while others have been trustworthy and compassionate. Inanalyzing leadership traits in terms of effectiveness, we can set aside for now the variations in moralityand ethics that precipitate different types of effectiveness.One of the most significant traits of an effective leader seems to be either strong communication skillsor, similarly, an ability to express themselves and share their ideas. To stand out as a representative of agroup or community, a person must first be heard and become recognizable amongst members of thegroup, distinguishable from all the other members. As an example, picture an outgoing member of astudent organization. Suppose this person is sociable, and is a good representative of the group overall,
participating in the organization’s activities and believing in the group’s core values. In an election for
an executive position in the organization, this person could be a qualified candidate. On the other hand,maybe someone in the organization regularly participates in activities and keeps a carefully balancedschedule. This person could be quiet but contribute ideas during meetings that tend to gain membersupport. In the same election, this person could also be a good candidate. To find out who would be
more likely to win, we would have to determine the organization’s goals to see which candidate would
probably be chosen to help the organization reach those goals. If the organization wants to spreadawareness, then the outgoing person might be the better choice, whereas the quieter person with manygood ideas might be better if the organization wants to try out new activities within the community.In a similar vein, a person must be able to explain their convictions, goals, and opinions clearly so thatother people can enter the conversation and potentially become a member of whatever new group may