Choosing Your Leadership Style? Start with The 5 Must-Have Traits Don Breckenridge Whether you are the owner of a business or without a leadership title, you can choose the type of leader you want to be. There is a lot of research on this topic with articles and books devoted to the types of leadership and the many different leadership styles. Many leaders believe that others must conform to their style or their methods, but the all this research indicates that it is not only possible to pick the style of leader you want to be, but it is desirable to do so. Some respected business consultants such as Peter Drucker, John Maxwell, and Kevin Kruse believe that the only thing needed to be a good leader is followers. Sadly, they are short-sighted. Good leadership is not based on the number of followers a leader has, but how helpful a leader is in helping his or her fellow coworkers get the job done right. The question is, can leadership qualities be learned? The answer is a big yes! While most leaders exhibit innate traits that make them effective, the best leaders aren’t the ones who settle for just their inherent traits. The best leaders seek out every good trait they can find so that they can become more adaptable and relatable to those they lead. The Five Must-Have Leadership Traits While there is a long list of desirable traits every leader should aspire to, the following five build a solid foundation for the best of leaders: 1. Integrity The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively. – Bob Marley The most successful leaders build trust and the most effective way to do this is to show coworkers you are a person of integrity. Never do anything you wouldn’t want someone else to do. Never falsify information and make sure to take responsibility for your failures. The respect others have for a leader of integrity is one of the most powerful tools for success. 2. Patience Sometimes things aren’t clear right away. That’s where you need to be patient and persevere and see where things lead. – Mary Pierce A successful leader is not someone who flies off the handle when errors are made. That is the easiest reaction when things aren’t going well. Instead, a more challenging feat, he or she inspires change in others. Patient leaders understand that their coworkers aren’t just a means to an end, but that taking the time to build them up and teach them new things is actually best practice. 3. Kindness Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love. – Lao Tzu People respond better to positive reinforcement than negative reinforcement. They respond to sincere kindness. This means giving credit when it is due and giving more responsibility to those who earn it. For those who aren’t meeting expectations, this means seeking first to understand them before trying to instill change in them. At the end of the day, it will always be worth it to have others who appreciate and respect you. 4. Delegation Don’t be a bottleneck… Force responsibility down and out. Find problem areas, add structure and delegate. The pressure is to do the reverse. Resist it. – Donald Rumsfeld Many leaders worry they’ll lose control if they task out responsibilities and as a result, they take on too much. It is beneficial to you to offload certain tasks so you can focus on the things only you can accomplish. Delegating tasks is also a great way to invest in others by providing them opportunities to learn new responsibilities. 5. Communication To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others. – Tony Robbins No matter how good it sounds in your head, if you can’t effectively communicate your ideas, they will never come to full fruition. Don’t just open your mouth just to see what comes out. Strategize how you should convey certain messages and take into account the implications your communications will have on the different individuals you lead. Remember, you have control of what kind of leader you are. You can change and adapt to be the best leader you need to be in any given situation. As you do find ways to acquire the above traits and many other leadership traits, you’ll find that others will be more likely to follow you and your business will be much more successful.