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Leadership Traits

In business innovators often strive for themselves and their organization to become better, I think we all could agree that we want to succeed and our business to reach new heights. I have worked with organizations that were led by competent managers and could easily gauge their success through key performance indicators and other metrics, but they struggled with getting their people to understand and believe in their vision. The problem I see is that managers have people who work for them, but it is leaders that have people who follow them.

I define a manager as a person who has control or direction of an institution or a business, and a leader as the person who leads or commands a group or organization. Who would you rather work for, a manager or a leader, or does it even matter? When I led a project with a typically bureaucratic federal agency we were attempting a top-down change across the organization and the stakeholder had deployed change agents like myself to work a business-unit equivalent. For the three-plus years that I worked on the project I experienced three different leaders at the helm. Each one possessed similar traits and characteristics, but it wasn’t until a charismatic leader came on board that allowed them to implement the changes. So what is that special spark that determines a leader over a manager?

The basic fundamentals of leadership is that we want to get our people to understand and believe in our vision so that we can accomplish our ultimate goal. There are many schools of thought on what characteristics great leaders aspire to, like the University of Oregon’s Holden Leadership Center’s 17 traits of a Leader, but in my observation there appears to be three main traits of great  leaders. Dynamic leaders have a Vision, they have the skills to Communicate their vision, and they Inspire their people. Have you done a self assessment to gauge where you in your own professional development? If not, then commit to the goal of creating an inspiring vision, and then motivate and inspire others to reach that vision.


Dan Elder,
TBS Consulting