5 Traits to Look for in Leaders


What kind of people are you looking for on your team? Bossidy and Charan (2002) in Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done suggest five traits to look for in leaders.  I have to ask myself also, “How am I doing in each of these five areas?” “Am I the kind of person someone would want on their team?”

Executors:  Vision, strategy, and ability to inspire are good, but we forget to ask the question:  How good is this person at getting things done?  If you want to build a company that has the excellent discipline of execution, you have to select the doer.

Ones that energize people.  Some leaders drain energy from people, and others create it.  Bossidy wants people who arrive with a smile on their face, who are upbeat, ready to take on the tasks of the day or month or year.  They’re going to create energy and energize the people they work with—and attract others like that too.

Decisive on tough issues.  Decisiveness is the ability to make the difficult decisions swiftly and act on them.  When a leader does not have the emotional fortitude, everyone in the business knows they are wavering, procrastinating and avoiding reality.

They get things done through others.   Getting things done through others is a fundamental leadership skill.  If you can’t do it, you’re not leading.  Some people smother others, blocking their initiatives and creativity.  They are micromanagers, insecure leaders who can’t trust others to get it right because they don’t know how to calibrate them and monitor their performance.  People who can’t work in team with others reduce the capacity of their organization.  They don’t get the full benefit of their people’s talent and waste everybody’s time including their own.

They follow through.  Following through ensures that people are doing the things they committed to do, according to the agreed timetable.  It exposes any lack of discipline and connection between ideas and actions.  It forces the specificity that is essential to synchronize the moving parts of an organization.

Never finish a meeting without clarifying what the follow through will be, who will do it, when and how they will do it, what resources they will use, and how and when the next reviews will take place and with whom..  And never launch an initiative unless you are personally committed to it and prepared to see it through until its embedded in the DNA or the organization.

What traits do you look for in people?

Related posts:

  1. 10 Crucial Qualities of Leaders
  2. 4 Disciplines for Building Organizational Health
  3. Great Leaders are Peddlers of Hope
  4. Bad Leaders, Good Leaders and Great Leaders
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About Steve Morgan

I work in Global Leadership Development with Cru with my wife, Terry. We have been married 30 years and have 4 grown children. We have a Masters in Global Leadership together through Azusa Pacific University. I generally write about 5 “L’s: Living Well, Loving Deeply, Learning Continuously, Leading Courageously and Leaving a Legacy. I occasionally write about Laughing Loudly. Subscribe on the right side to receive an email whenever there is a new post. I invite you to leave your comments so we can dialogue on the various topics and learn from each other. If you are new to the site, you might start with looking at some of the top posts or doing a search on the right side bar for one of the 5 “L’s” that interest you. Or you can view the blog archives for topics. Photo Credit: sarahjoellephotography.com
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2 Responses to 5 Traits to Look for in Leaders

  1. Allan Hovis says:

    Personally, I think that a leader should be a responsible person, open-minded, ready to do whatever it takes to achieve the company’s goals and also someone who knows how to communicate with others.
    Following a leadership training program at Robinson Leadership was such a great experience and I’ve learned so many things about I had no idea. An interesting subject and nowadays a leader is important for a business… it’s hard to do something without one.

    • Steve Morgan says:

      Thanks for visiting Allan. Good point about having a leadership program. You have to know where you want to go and where you want to take people. Thanks for adding to the conversation. What was helpful for you in the Robinson experience?

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