The decision to be a leader is often determined through actions of someone on a team and not always a conscious choice but instead something that naturally fits.

Six characteristics of a Leader

The six characteristics of a leader follows a similar path in most instances. The decision to take the torch of leading forward organically fits for most when they demonstrate empathy, integrity, confidence, humility, accountability, and courage.

1. Empathy makes teamwork function.

Leaders who listen, demonstrate respect, and care for others often show empathy. The management consulting company Development Dimensions International, assessed leadership skills over 15,00 executives from three hundred companies across eighteen counties, the firm’s research concluded that in today’s workplace, “Empathy tops the list as the most critical driver of overall performance.”[1] Overlapping with leadership, empathy pushes a leader forward.

2. Trust is key.

Integrity, or choosing the harder right instead of the easier wrong, is an aspect a leader signifies in their work. When a team member is taken at their word and acknowledged for a solid track record they are often moved into the leader category.

3. Confidence comes from expertise.

The individual who seeks out advice and is quick to offer counsel is a person who demonstrates a willingness to share, shape, mold, and mentor others into their future is a leader. Dr. Marisa Porges speaks to this confidence when she emphasizes leaders who step forward to, “lead in problem-solving and empathize with those different from me in every way possible.”[2]

4. Humility demonstrates how to best help others.

Those who walk into organizations with open-mindedness and an intention to make a difference possess limitless leader potential. This trait, critical for leaders allows people to positively impact others’ lives.

5. Accountability matters.

The mission is the reason why a leader is necessary. The person who counts on others also helps to complete tasks at hand. A person who ensures follow through, responsibility, and works to do the job right is the true leader.

6. Courage to face the future.

Receiving feedback, seeking alternative opinions, and moving in the best direction forward is critical to getting the job done. The leader motivates and helps others to do the same.

A Leader Rises Above the Daily Tasking

The day in and out of work demonstrates the person who continually follows the items or tasks provided, regardless of position, may not always be the true leader. Instead, it is the person who listens more than they talk, demonstrating empathy. The leader takes responsibility instead of blaming others, displaying integrity. The leader focuses on how best to solve problems, seeks input, and makes decisions with confidence. The leader intentionally understands they do not know it all and humbly works to be better than they were at the start of the day. The leader also knows results are important and holds people to their own level of excellence. Lastly, the leader has the intestinal fortitude to passionately step forward and courageously make a difference in the world.

[1] Evan Sinar, Rich Wellins, Matthew Paese, Audrey Smith, Bruce Watt, “Is Empathy Boss?” Development Dimensions International, 2016, 20-23.

[2] Marisa Porges, What Girls Need: How to Raise Bold, Courageous, and Resilient Women (New York: Viking, 2020), xviii.

Related News

Candice Frost is an active duty Army officer and a leadership consultant. Her work in intelligence on the Army Staff provides her unique insights on the highest levels of leadership in DoD. She is a public speaker who focuses on mentorship and leader development. She lives in Washington, DC and can be reached at