12 Characteristics of an Effective

Effective leadership has certain, basic, visionary, characteristics. The aim of a strong
leader is to translate their “vision” into reality. So, how is this done? Here are 12
characteristics of an effective leader to consider.
1. An Effective Leader is a Risk-Taker
An effective leader attempts to bring about great changes. These changes are not
without risks. Facing changes and challenges, as we get older is a part of life. How we
deal with changes and challenges reflects on who we are and how we will grow as a
A strong leader is very creative. They will try new approaches even if it presents
possible failure. Effective leaders recognize that failure is only temporary and that this
setback gives a clearer understanding of what not to do in the future. The overall
attitude of a risk-taking leader is that, “You ultimately fail when you don‟t give it a try!”
Helen Keller was born in 1882. She become ill as a young child and was struck blind,
deaf and mute. In 1887, Keller had a teacher named Anne Sullivan who helped her
make tremendous progress in her ability to communicate. As she grew up under
Sullivan‟s coaching she went on to college, graduating in 1904. One of Keller‟s famous
quotes showed her as a risk-taker. She said, “Life is either a daring adventure or
nothing at all.”
2. An Effective Leader has Self-control
Strong leaders know that their ability to stay calm, even in the worst of conflicts, is a
character trait that must be nurtured and grown. The effective leader‟s mantra is,
“When you lose your temper, you lose.”
Stephen Covey pointed out that there is a well-defined character of those who express
self-control. He said, “You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the
courage – pleasantly, smilingly, non-apologetically – to say „no‟ to other things. And the
way to do that is by having a bigger „yes‟ burning inside. The enemy of the „best‟ is
often the „good.”
Self-control will determine what is most important.
3. An Effective Leader is a Caring Individual
Strong leadership can never take place if those we lead think we do not care. Leaders
should show a caring attitude about the mission of their organization however; their
concern for each individual team member must take priority over everything else.
When a leader cares about those they lead they show behavior that is consistently
acknowledging others. A leader who cares is also one who maintains eye contact
during a conversation. This type of leader asks many questions and listens more than
they talk. A caring leader desires the feedback and opinions of those they lead.
Due to the caring nature of this type of leader they regularly compliment people in public
and private settings. This type of leader also expresses genuine interest in the lives of
those they lead.
4. An Effective Leader is Modest
Self-evaluation is a strong characteristic of an effective leader. A good leader does not
have a problem in being evaluated or receiving criticism. No one enjoys being
corrected but an effective leader sees it for what it is: an opportunity for personal
5. An Effective Leader is Balanced
A good leader does not ignore any area of their personal life. They understand that to
do well they must keep up good health, physically, spiritually, emotionally and mentally.
An effective leader understands that to be a balanced leader it is necessary to:
1. Rest, and get enough sleep
2. Eat a healthy diet
3. Exercise on a regular basis
4. Work hard on developing healthy social skills and interaction
5. Grow personal skills and talents
The overriding goal of a strong leader is to go at all areas of life in a balanced fashion.
6. An Effective Leader is Resolute
A strong leader must make wise decisions. They must also be willing to listen to wise
counsel. A strong leader is determined and admirably purposeful. There is a strong
character of unwavering determination.
The word resolute describes a characteristic of firmness and determination. This type
of person is clear especially in purpose and belief. A resolute leader can also be
characterized by quickness.
7. An Effective Leader is Motivational
A motivational leader enjoys their task. They are optimistic about their
purpose. Change requires taking risks, personal growth and challenges. A motivational
leader does not back down from a challenge but is willing to lead the way as an
inspirational leader.
8. An Effective Leader is a Clear Communicator
It is important to understand that communication is not solely conversation. A good
communicator aims to make sure that their message is understood. The skill of
communication is grown upon the skill of listening. Listening is as important as talking
and an effective leader listens more than they talk.
9. An Effective Leader is a Visionary
A leader must be a dreamer. A productive leader is someone who can see into the
future. The challenge for every visionary leader is not to get so far ahead of the team in
what they see that they leave them behind, lost, wandering about the future direction. A
visionary is a dreamer but they are also a strong communicator of their dream.
Effective leadership has certain, basic, visionary, characteristics. The aim of a strong
leader is to translate their “vision” into reality.
10. An Effective Leader has a Sense of Humor
Good leaders take their work seriously however, they do not mind laughing at
themselves. A healthy leader does not have a problem in finding humor in their
mistakes or blunders. A productive leader knows that laughter is good for the soul. A
humorous person can lead a team even through the most challenging times.
Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “A sense of humor is part of the art of leadership, of getting
along with people, of getting things done.” William Arthur Ward put it this way,“A well-
developed sense of humor is the pole that adds balance to your steps as you walk the
tightrope of life.”
11. An Effective Leader is Ethical
A strong leader has a strong moral base. There is no question about their
character. What you see is what you get. There is nothing more defeatist than a
dishonest or lying leader. A strong leader has strong convictions.
Ethical living and leadership will take courage and conviction. It means doing the right
thing, even when the right thing isn‟t popular or easy to accomplish. When a leader
makes decisions based on core values, then it makes a clear statement that they
cannot be bought. The effective ethical leader leads by example.
12. An Effective Leader is Dedicated to the “Cause”
Being an effective leader is not easy but it is necessary for the success of any
organization or team. Dedication is key. Being able to convey commitment to a clear
purpose and cause is essential. The strong leader will communicate the “cause” as
often as possible.
Real dedication is fueled by the passion of the cause. If there is no passion then there is
no motivation for the cause.
Every successful team needs an EFFECTIVE LEADER! The goal of all leaders should
be to constantly ask a simple question of themselves, “Am I being an effective
leader?” This question can be answered by considering these 12 characteristics of an
effective leader.