Vincy Workplace
May 5, 2006
Five traits of a great leader

Leadership is one of the hottest topics in business today. Everyone has their own understanding of what makes a leader great.

I invited a colleague to share his views on leadership; he is a national training specialist for Verizon Communications, Here are his thoughts. {{more}}

There are as many leadership styles as there are books and articles written on the subject of leadership. Leaders range from the strong-armed Machiavellian-type to the team-oriented masters of servant leadership. Regardless of the leadership style used, certain traits of leaders lend themselves to success. A great leader:

1.Develops a Clear Vision – Vision is not the “how” a company plans to succeed, but the “where” the company wants to go in the future.

It is the leader’s responsibility not only to have a clear vision, but also to be able to communicate this vision down through the ranks in a manner that is easy to understand. The clearer the vision, the easier it will be for management and front-line employees to make it happen.

2.Understands the Business – This may seem obvious; however, it is not common. The great leader must understand some of all aspects of the business including: accounting and financial management, operations, training, resources, project management principles, team building techniques, communication, politics and many more aspects of the business. Total ignorance in any of these areas could spell disaster for a leader. Bottom line, the great leader can never afford to stop learning something new about the business.

3.Creates Measurable Goals – It is not enough to simply create goals and objectives for business units. You must create goals that can be measured for success or failure. It is also wise to always tie goals to a timeline and to make sure that someone is accountable for actions that must be taken to achieve goals at all levels.

4.Opens the Door to Their Office – If you believe that you can run a business from your desk on the 44th floor without ever leaving the office, you are in for a rude awakening. The great leader opens the doors of communication between him/her and the rest of the world. The great leader keeps an ear to the ground of the company, gets to know employees at all levels, and invites ideas and/or complaints as opportunities for change.

5.Shines in the Tough Times – Great leaders welcome opportunities to lead the company through the tough times when clients are lost or when unforeseen circumstances hurt the business. Leaders that can rally the troops and provide hope and direction in difficult times can truly earn the respect and admiration from the workers and colleagues.

• Karen Hinds works with companies and professionals to develop their competitive edge through effective communications, image management and customer service. Send comments and suggestions to