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How do you recognize a good leader? Research shows that leadership styles in business account for 30 percent of a company’s bottom-line profitability. Knowing which style of leadership you favor helps you understand how you can improve, but other components are factors as well.

6 Traits of a Good Leader

1.     Integrity

Most executives agree that integrity is the pillar of leadership, according to public speaker and self-development author Brian Tracy. They agree that leaders need to be completely honest in everything they do. Doing what’s right, even if it hurts the current project or the bottom line, is essential to being a good leader.

2.     Decisiveness

Making tough decisions is part of being a leader. Difficult and timely decisions must be made in the best interest of the organization, and they require “a firmness, authority and finality that will not please everyone.”

One Forbes article states that indecisive bosses are typically ineffective. Building a consensus can have a negative effect, leading to continued debate and a decision that doesn’t satisfy anyone. These effects can be prevented by the leader making a tough decision.

3.     Transparency

Leaders who are open with their employees gain respect. Transparency is critical to developing the type of trust that leads to meaningful communication and, ultimately, success in business. One leader in Entrepreneur magazine explained why she remains as transparent as possible.

I’ve never bought into the concept of ‘wearing the mask.’ As a leader, the only way I know how to engender trust and buy-in from my team and with my colleagues is to be 100-percent authentically me – open, sometimes flawed, but always passionate about our work. It has allowed me the freedom to be fully present and consistent. They know what they’re getting at all times. No surprises.”

-Keri Potts, senior director of public relations, ESPN

4.     Optimism

Positive energy should be synonymous with leadership. Work can get tough, but good leaders know when to provide a positive outlook. They have solutions and know what to say to inspire others and reassure them. They avoid things like personal criticism and pessimistic thinking.

5.     Vision

Leaders who are able to see into the future know where they’re going and how to strategize to get there. Tracy said that is what separates managers from leaders. It’s the difference between a “transactional manager” and a “transformational leader.” A manager gets the job done while leaders with vision are innovative and take the company to a new level.

6.     Inspiration

One way to wrap all of the traits of a good leader is with inspiration. A leader who acts with integrity, decisiveness, transparency, optimism and vision will be inspirational. This type of leader challenges employees to grow and work more effectively and efficiently. Inspirational leaders motivate others to follow in their footsteps, creating a cycle.

“People always say I’m a self-made man. But there is no such thing. Leaders aren’t self-made; they are driven. I arrived in America with no money or any belongings besides my gym bag, but I can’t say I came with nothing. Others gave me great inspiration and fantastic advice, and I was fueled by my beliefs and an internal drive and passion. That’s why I’m always willing to offer motivation – to friends or strangers on Reddit. I know the power of inspiration, and if someone can stand on my shoulders to achieve greatness, I’m more than willing to help them up.” 

-former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger

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