The essential qualities of effective leadership

In recent weeks I have been thinking more deeply about effective leadership to determine if my views should be revised given the recent presidential election.

First, my definition of “effective leaders“: Effective leaders achieve the organization’s goals while strengthening the organization and the relationships within it for future work.

Whether we are thinking about the President of the United States or the person who is one level above us in the hierarchy of our workplace, I believe that effective leaders:

• Create with others a shared, compelling vision of a desired future

• Generate and help spread positive emotions

• Make decisions based on sound evidence and reasoning

• Are open to being persuaded by the views of others

• Treat others with respect

• Are exemplars of how they want others to think and act

• Have integrity, particularly in telling the truth and keeping promises

• Adapt to changing circumstances while staying true to core values and principles

What would you add to or subtract from my list? 

Are all of these attributes essential, or are some so much more important than others that a leader and organization will fail without them?

4 Responses to “The essential qualities of effective leadership”


  1. 1 James Kearns January 18, 2017 at 7:57 am

    The one comment I’d add to your excellent list is: “• Has sufficient intellect, relevant knowledge, and expertise, to earn the respect of stakeholders”

    • 2 Dennis Sparks January 18, 2017 at 6:10 pm

      A great addition to the list, Jim. Unfortunately, sometimes people are appointed to senior positions simply because they don’t know anything or are even opposed to the very existence of the organization, usually with disastrous results…

  2. 3 Wanda Dean January 23, 2017 at 9:27 am

    A very good list. Thank you. I will think about additions and share if I come up with any.


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