HR Management & Compliance

6 Traits of Effective Leaders

"Progressive employers seek to become the employer of choice as a means to secure a competitive advantage in the marketplace for attracting, retaining and promoting top talent." Mary Anne Kennedy highlighted in a recent BLR webinar. But how do you become an employer of choice? What differentiates a good employer from an average one? Often, the answer is simple: effective leadership.

Developing Effective Leaders

In order to achieve this goal (of trying to be the employer of choice), it is important that managers and supervisors realize that leadership of their associates or team members is critical. They need to understand that we don't "manage" our associates, we lead them. We manage finances, we lead team members. Our managers and supervisors need to understand this distinction to become effective leaders. One of the primary reasons this matters is to reduce turnover.

Turnover is where this return on investment in leadership is critical. The costs of turnover really add up—recruiting, interviewing, training, productivity ramp up time, etc. Leading a staff helps reduce all of these costs. This is especially relevant when someone is hired into a role that is not a good fit—an effective leader can help turn the situation around without as much turnover.

So, what are the traits of effective leaders?

6 Traits of Effective Leaders

There are 6 traits that distinguish effective leaders from non-leaders:

  1. Integrity/dependability/drive. This characteristic includes endurance and enthusiasm. It means that the individual is willing and able to exert energy to achieve a goal, and can be depended upon to do so.
  2. Self-confidence. Someone with a noticeable bearing or presence who has the ability to influence others and pursue goals will be a good leader. This person needs to have strong beliefs and be decisive—traits associated with self-confidence.
  3. Desire to influence others. This desire is frequently seen as a willingness to accept authority. In other words, this person is happy to be in authority and does not shirk responsibility. They can use the authority to build trusting relationships and influence others.
  4. Ethical and moral character. To be an effective leader, one must be honest and have a good moral character.
  5. Intelligence. This relates to the ability to follow and interpret the vision and mission of the organization. It also incorporates smart decision-making and effective communicating because a leader needs to synthesize, interpret, and communicate information to be successful.
  6. Relevant knowledge. Going beyond intelligence, an effective leader must also have relevant knowledge for the role. This includes technical, theoretical, and conceptual knowledge. The person must have the ability to conceptualize. He or she must know the entire operation well enough to lead the team.

Do you see these traits in your good leaders?

For more information on developing effective leaders, order the webinar recording of "Boss-Building Strategies: Essential Steps for Developing a Better Leader." To register for a future webinar, visit

Mary Anne Kennedy is the principal consultant at MAKHR Consulting, LLC, a full-service human resources advisory firm. MAKHR Consulting provides the full spectrum of HR services and programs, including all aspects of talent acquisition – from the full cycle recruitment process to succession planning and performance management.

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