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Traits of an Effective Leader

Traits of an Effective Leader

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Published by Caylie Hake

An essay looking at the traits of effective leaders

An essay looking at the traits of effective leaders

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Published by: Caylie Hake on Jan 17, 2013
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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
 
form. A lone person running amok shouting their views and collecting no supporters is simply a personexercising their freedom of speech to little avail. If a person shares their ideas and strikes a chord withothers who then decide to join forces, this person will have an opportunity to lead the newly formedgroup in establishing its roots. Thereafter, this person still might not become a leader, though. It ispossible that one of the new group members could step up, express their goals for the group, and leadthe other members toward such a goal. In other words, the person who initially went out to share ideasacted as the original hub of information, pulling people into the group and giving them some belief orideal upon which to build the group dynamic. However, this person might not prove to be the bestcommunicator or encourager or teacher, whatever the group may need, to move the group toward itsgoals.It seems more natural to picture a situation in which the person who raises awareness or gets attentionfor a particular topic becomes the automatic leader of whatever sort of interested people they gather.However, some other factors must be taken into account. For example, an effective leader must berespected by those they wish to lead. Disrespect within the group causes fissures that do not mend untilrespect is restored or the leader is ousted. Otherwise, the group will dissociate into factions, each withits own leader and specific agenda, or worse
 –
the organization could be destroyed. A respected leaderis able to produce results by encouraging others, pushing when necessary, and making executivedecisions. Such a leader can direct the processes that make the group function as a whole, but a personcan only lead this way if others accept and willingly follow them.Reliability is a key factor in effective leadership, as well, and it can help increase respect for the person
possessing it. A leader should hold to their convictions and support the group’s ideology, but at the
same time they should be open to change when necessary. Leaders should not falter in the face of adversity, nor should they bend to the powers of opposing groups. However, leaders must be open-minded to be most effective, and group members should have a sense that the leader is doing what theybelieve is best for the group. This includes times when facts and data support an alteration of the
leader’s and the group’s ideology.
 Reliability also manifests itself in other ways. Being consistently easy to contact, present at meetings,and involved in discussions and decision-making processes is extremely important because it showsorganization members that the leader is always interested and invested in the organization. In other

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