4 Traits That Separate Effective Leaders From Average Ones

leader sitting outside

Laura Berlinsky-Schine
Laura Berlinsky-Schine
Leadership is about much more than having a vision and executing it. While a good leader innovates, a great leader innovates and inspires followers who share in her dream in the process.
Of course, successful leaders can't do it alone; they must have teams who work toward making an idea a reality. The most effective leaders possess certain qualities that put them ahead of the pack and make them stand out in their industries—and the world. Here are four important leadership qualities managers should possess in order to bring their own dreams and the goals of their organization to fruition:
1. They are perceptive.
Effective leaders know what's going on with their team and are aware when something has gone wrong, because that's the first step toward finding a solution. They are also aware of how team members and other people act around them and why.
A great leader wants to know what others think of them. That's how they can improve. That's why great leaders not only deliver feedback, but also solicit feedback from employees on how they're doing as managers. When they're confronted with negative feedback, they don't ignore it. Instead, they strive to improve and develop their skills further.
2. They support their team members.
Successful leaders don't ask their teams to work toward realizing their vision. They make that vision the dream of the entire team, so it's a collective effort. And in exchange for asking people to care about their dream, a great leader must care about the needs of individual employees.
Supporting employees doesn't mean a manager has to constantly be asking about their personal lives; instead, it means helping them develop the skills they need to find their own success. Think of yourself as a mentor who is helping others achieve their own goals, as they work to help your organization achieve your goals.
3. They are strong communicators.
Communication is essential to the professional success of all workers, and leaders need to master the art of communication to lead effectively. You must have the ability to communicate your mission and goals, as well as direct others on how they can support it. You must also be adept at making and communicating your decisions to both your team and the public.
While it may not be possible to involve all employees in the decision making that occurs, make sure that they're at least aware of your actions, why you're taking them, and how they fit into the bigger picture.
4. They take risks.
No great leader has gotten to where she is by always playing it safe. Most important decisions involve taking some risk that it won't work out. And not all the choices you make will pan out, but that's part of what helps you find the solutions that do work.
Any effective leader you can think of has taken some risks in her life and work. Vera Wang changed careers several times, risking it all to become the iconic fashion designer she is today. Christene Barberich left her job at Condé Nast to create Refinery29. Bill Gates dropped out of college to start Microsoft.
Great leaders don't play it safe. They develop new ideas, create strategies to implement them, and if they don't work the first time, they try and try again.