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Essential Leadership Traits

Does the word LEADER fill air and blood in your body? Do you question, what is it that the leaders do that I could also do to shape the world, but would it be too late till I come across those traits?

Brian Tracy mentioned in his book, one of the best techniques to develop leadership qualities is to read and study great leaders. This practice imbibes the quality of leaders subconsciously.

Psychologist Ralph Melvin Stogdill suggested that leadership is the result of the interaction between the individual and the social situation, and not merely the result of a predefined set of traits.

If you take out time every day and observe great leaders, they definitely have a structured way of leading their team to achieve a common objective. These leaders have some of these traits that help them guide the team through the ups and downs of their journey. Good leaders have great interpersonal and communication skills, and anybody can learn how to exercise and enhance their leadership qualities. Some of the skills include:

1. Decision Making From the time we wake up, we always make decisions. Brushing teeth, getting ready or maybe staying late in the bed itself, whatever the action it is that we perform, it always involves decision-making. Although this is on an everyday basis, the leaders usually have to make a decision representing the whole team to achieve a common goal. Effective leaders make timely judgments based on the information they have.

Herbert Simon, a Nobel Prize-winning economist and cognitive psychologist, first developed the notion of heuristics in the 1950s. Heuristics are mental shortcuts that enable people to solve problems and make decisions in a timely and effective manner. These rule-of-thumb tactics reduce decision-making time and allow people to perform without continually pausing to consider their next steps.

There are few types of heuristics as follows:

  • Availability Heuristic Higher the frequency of something that you remember, easier to judge the outcome based on it.

Ex- Getting scared after listening to crime news reported by the media repeatedly, although they’re not that frequent.

  • Representative Heuristic Making a choice using the representativeness heuristic entails comparing the current circumstance to the most representative mental prototype.

Ex-What do you remember when you come across the words such as ambulance, doctor, injection, stretcher and hospital? Does it produce a picture of emergency/ caution/ fear? Now you get it.

  • Effect Heuristic The effect heuristic includes making decisions that are impacted by the emotions that a person is feeling at the time.

Ex-Remember that feeling when you dressed up well, and you didn’t have to think twice to feel good about yourself and things seemed smooth until a few days later when you felt terrible and made a decision according to how you felt?

  • Anchoring The anchoring bias is the propensity (natural tendency to behave in a particular way) to be swayed by the first piece of information we hear or acquire.

Ex- Shopping is always fun right! However, when the shopkeeper mentions a particular price for an article / apparel, then you tend to keep the same in mind as a mark or a constant value. However, if negotiation or discounts are offered, you tend to find it economical as the anchoring mark had a reduction and don't bother about the actual possible selling price that he could have quoted in the first place.

2. Communication Did you know that a potential client will decide whether to buy from you or your company in seven seconds? Did you know that decisions or judgments about you will be made by the other person in roughly 7 seconds on average? One of the most evolved traits, as a human, is that we humans have been able to communicate our thoughts. This can be done using verbal and non-verbal communication. Verbal communication includes using our voice with tone, speed and volume intensity as a medium to communicate our message to the receiver of our voice. Non-verbal communication happens on the other hand by use of body language where we use body posture, facial expression, gestures, haptics, appearance and much more. A leader should craft his communication skill to the top, improving every day. Although these skills won’t come to anyone so easily, it can always be practiced and tried and then moved forward. One should read books, watch YouTube videos and watch great leaders communicating their thoughts using both types of communication techniques to master them for a better presentation of yourself or your services.

3. Networking

A leader goes a long way into unfolding opportunities if only one understands the power of networking. In the 21st century, it has become quite obvious to us to connect easily via the internet and social media. Why not utilize the power of these tools to network? There exists a large space to grow your business and your team with the help of networking.

One mistake that most people make is to network with people when they have something for give and take. Networking solely when you "have to" implies you'll be nervous and agitated, focusing on what you need from your network rather than what you can provide it. It's a better idea to network when you don't need anything specific, and to focus on what you can do for others rather than what they can do for you.

Second, individuals frequently make the error of believing that the greatest approach to stay in touch with people is to keep them up to speed on your activities and successes. While this can be useful at times, keeping track of their activities and successes is a superior technique.

4. Active Listening

“Listen to me!” “You don’t listen to me anytime?” Do you hear this often from your colleagues, co-workers, or maybe your spouse?

Every day we hear the sound of either water tipping, pressure cooker hissing, notification tone and much more. What do we choose to focus on?

Maybe one of them, rather than all of it, right? That’s what we understand as keeping attention.

When one does a particular task and is interfered with by their family, friend or someone known, the full focus is broken into fragments. This is what should be avoided while listening to someone. Only if one could put their full attention span listening to their speaker, would make it easier to understand them. This bluntly doesn't mean just listening to their words, but also focusing on their non-verbal cues, as we discussed above.

Since we have read and learned what these traits are, let us give it a quick revision:

  1. Decision-making can be improved with the help of understanding heuristics. Heuristics are used as a rule of thumb for perceiving things.

  2. Communication should be maximally used to communicate the shared goal of the team, using both verbal and non-verbal communication.

  3. Networking in the 21st century is much better than ever it used to be for mankind. Use it to the maximum.

  4. Active Listening to be used to listen to what the fellow person has got to say to you, which would make them feel heard.


Hope you found this article helpful. If you or your organization is interested to learn more about such attributes and behavioral skills at the workplace, feel free to get in touch with us at RGB Training Services!


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