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What are the Characteristics of a Leader?

great-boss-11082602 Credit: Masta4650 |

Since everyone is motivated differently, being a leader requires a careful blend of a leadership characteristics and leadership skills. The kind of leader you are depends on your personality traits and characteristics.

From being self-confident to having strong initiative, the characteristics that make up a leader are vast and different depending on whom the leader is trying to lead.

Being just, dependable and enthusiastic are among the 14 leadership traits taught in the United States Marine Corps. Other integral characteristics of a leader, according to the Marines, include having good judgment, initiative, courage and endurance.

Retired General Colin Powell believes a good leader has the quality to make decisions that everyone can understand.

"Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate, and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand," Powell once said.

Another great leadership quote comes from Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton said leaders have the ability to boost self-confidence in those around them.

"Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel," Walton said. "If people believe in themselves, it's amazing what they can accomplish."

The United Public Service Employees Union (UPSEU) ranks the desire to learn and organizational ability as the most important traits of leader, and also says being unselfish when possible is a critical quality.

According to the UPSEU, people accept the fact that leaders may be somewhat selfish, but they do wish they would consider their followers as a close second.

“A good leader takes a little more than his share of the blame, a little less than his share of the credit," said humorist and author Arnold Glasow.

The National School Board Association places a high priority on its leaders having a constructive spirit of discontent, mental toughness and the respect of their peers.

"It isn't important that people like you," said entrepreneur Maxey Jarmen. "It's important hat they respect you. If they respect you, they'll follow you, even if perhaps they don't like you."

The Leadership Toolbox reports good leaders are empathetic, consistent, honest and good communicators.

Leaders who communicate effectively about expectations, issues and advice will have a staff that is more likely to react and meet goals, according to the Leadership Toolbox.

Not surprisingly, Apple founder Steve Jobs believed innovation was the key to being an effective leader.

"Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower," Jobs said.

Other traits considered important in being a successful leader are accountability, humility, imagination, passion and confidence.

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Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer who has nearly 15 years' experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.