The 15 Character Traits of a Successful Leader

 In Rick Conlow


What does it take to be a successful leader? We know that success leaves clues. Any manager can do it, all of the information needed is available today. Failing as a leader is an excuse for not investing in the effort to learn to build a better team. The team must also learn how to work with an excellent leader as well. It’s different as you will see in the character traits.

WCW, LearnMoreTodayThe fastest way to become a good leader is to talk to, read about, and to be coached or trained by successful leaders. The next step is to “model” what good leaders do while you continue to learn to apply their behaviors, attitudes and strategies.

It takes commitment and diligence to reach a higher standard, but it is doable over time. It’s not something that can happen over a weekend. Practice, trial and error, and repetition are the mother of learning. You have to ask yourself if you are up to the challenge. To begin, let’s look at the character traits of successful leaders.

Character Traits of a Successful Leader

We have worked with countless organizations to help drive results in sales, customer retention, profit and employee engagement. (this involves close to 300,000 managers) With the management teams we have achieved extraordinary results. In all cases management teams became the heroes. The best leaders had these fifteen characteristics.

  1. Integrity – When manager’s were asked what the #1 characteristic they look for in a leader, integrity came up. It’s not surprising considering all of the high-profile leadership failures we have witnessed in the media.
  2. Knowledgeable – You have to be competent and a student of the game.
  3. Vision – Effective leaders need to be able to create exciting plans and goals that “charge up” their teams.
  4. Hard-working – Nothing of significant value is cheap. You have to go the extra mile to be a top-notch leader.
  5. Persistent – Excellent leaders have a determination to succeed and are relentless in their pursuit of their goals.
  6. People person – Most of the best leaders we have worked with are “people” oriented. They love to engage others, particularly in their teams and with their customers. They know as the supervisor, they have the single biggest impact on the performance of their employees.
  7. Listeners – Communication is crucial to leadership success, and listening is the skill of leverage. Why? Because too many leaders want to dominate the conversations. Listen more and you learn more.
  8. Belief – Without belief in what you are doing it’s almost impossible to win. Management champions believe in themselves, their teams, their company and its products.
  9. Courage – Be willing to do whatever it takes, taking calculated risks to exceed the objectives.
  10. Coach – There is no question, the best leaders become the best coaches and trainers. Coaching has become a lost art. Champions learn to do it well using a multi-disciplinary approach.
  11. Trainer – The single biggest impact on an employee’s performance is the direct supervisors-you. Developing people is a key to success. Superb leaders learn to train one on one and in a group.
  12. Accountability – Superstar leaders understand that the “buck stops here”. In other words they take sole responsibility for results while instilling this approach to business in their teams.
  13. Lead by Example – You have to be willing to show others how to do it. Champions do what they ask their team to do.
  14. Collaboration – Work cultures today requires dynamic and positive relationships and teamwork within the team and with other departments.
  15. Execution – Leaders who “lead the pack” know that excellent execution of the plan often means the difference between winning and losing.

WCW, WatchALeaderCloselyHow do you rate in these areas? What do you do well? What can you improve? While there are other qualities that matter, we have found that the above are common in the most successful leaders we have seen in the guts of an organization. The lesson, be a student of the game, keep learning and be open to feedback from others. Don’t take your capability lightly. Leaders with these fifteen traits help their people win. Get aggressive in becoming more effective. If you want your team to be better, you have to be a better leader.

By the way, do you want to benchmark your leadership strengths and development areas with the best managers? Go ahead and take this complimentary Superstar Leadership Assessment and action plan.

Or, do you want to learn how to be a more effective leader, and fast track your career? If so, I suggest you check our best selling book, Superstar Leadership. 

Want to continue learning and succeeding, see our Superstar Leadership Blog, with over 400 complimentary resources.

Contact Rick for consulting, coaching or training services at: or call, 888-313-0514.

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Showing 5 comments
  • Viki

    Short-n-sweet online courses which helps to be successful leader:

  • Abby

    Transparency, monitoring and evaluation skills, wise decision maker, open minded, creativity you can add to the list. A leader can’t work work with organisational hierarchy and should be able to understand all employees and their level of management in the hierarchy. Should also embrace people responsibilities and identify any area of change that is friendly to all.

    • Rick Conlow

      Hi Abby:
      Great adds to the list. Thanks for the comment.
      Lead with integrity, live purposefully!

  • Ephantus Nyaga

    I think the 15 character traits you’ve shared will be so helpful to many people. As a leader I’ll work on them to improve on my leadership skills.Thank you for sharing this.

    • Rick Conlow

      I appreciate your comments Ephantus. My goal is to revolutionize leadership success. Too many managers are failing. My posts, this blog, the complimentary Excellence in Management training and my others resources are my strategies to help the world’s 400 million supervisors, managers, and leaders.
      Lead with integrity, live purposefully!

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