Skills you need to be an effective leader

If you were to build a house, you would always begin with a blueprint. This contains more than the directions on how to build a house. It also describes the finished product or the outcomes you want to achieve. Same goes for your goals. I often talk to my clients about creating a strong and clear blueprint to help them successfully change their habits and become effective leaders.

So, if you want to be a great leader and build other leaders in your team, start by having a blueprint of the characteristics that will have a lasting positive impact on your business.

Last month I asked an audience of leaders to describe the characteristics of an ideal leader. Their answers, in no particular order, were:

  • A good listener,
  • enthusiasm,
  • passionate,
  • shows appreciation,
  • a visionary,
  • a role model,
  • is trusting,
  • acts with integrity,
  • is organised,
  • is knowledgeable,
  • is credible,
  • is persuasive,
  • has charisma,
  • a great team builder,
  • gives clarity of purpose,
  • is a problem solver,
  • has an attitude of service,
  • leads by example,
  • is patient,
  • willing to act without complete knowledge,
  • a decision maker,
  • understands their followers,
  • is consistent,
  • empowers other people, and
  • adapts to change.

Before you go down the list and tick all that you agree with, I’d encourage you to do something first:


All of these characteristics relate to the human side of leadership. I often hear people minimise this human element with terms like “soft” or “touchy feely” skills or characteristics. When actually, applying these characteristics requires more strength than not.


Absent from this list are characteristics such as stern, serious, short tempered, vindictive, tough, angry, harsh, punitive, controlling, violent, or ruthless. How many popular representations of leadership emphasise at least one of these “hard” characteristics? I will go as far to say that these characteristics are the refuge of those who lack the strength (or the skills) to apply the human side of leadership.


How would you rate yourself as a leader compared to the list of positive characteristics? If you were to survey the people who report to you, how would they describe your leadership? Would they list characteristics from the “soft” list or from the “hard” list? Could you become a more effective role model by improving any of the “soft” characteristics? And how about the other leaders in your team? Do they truly maximise human potential?

People want leaders who treat them with genuine compassion, courtesy, and respect. They want leaders who help them become more successful. They want leaders who inspire them with a vision for a better world and show them how to go there.

You will only get the best out of your people if you give them the best of yourself. So next time you are faced with a deadline and the pressure is on, stop, think, and reflect on the type of leader you are now and on what you are teaching the leaders of the future.


Share your comments and ideas in the comments section below and lets get the conversation started. Thanks! 

Of course I’m here for you if you have any questions or would like help you on your journey. Drop me an email today and we can chat about your current circumstances and what you want to achieve.

Suzy Sallam

I am a Career and Leadership Coach on a mission to help professionals just like you, experience the confidence and satisfaction that comes from being authentic to yourself and living in a fulfilling career.

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