What are the personality traits that define a leader? In any organization, there are goals to be achieved, and the existence (or not) of people leading others is one of the keys to making things work.
Human groups (companies, political parties, unions …) are characterized by a lot of investments time and effort to identify and develop the leaders of the future. The importance at this stage is usually focused on the detection of profiles with good potential in terms of intellectual, communicative and even physical attributes. This view presupposes that there are a known number of personal traits that a leader must possess, traits which may have been well defined.
Leader personality traits
The characterization of leader skills has been studied from personal tests and also through observation of behavior in group contexts. This line of study has succeeded in correlating almost all of the leadership traits.
Below, we summarize the ten most prevalent personality traits in people with high leadership ability according to these surveys.
1. Communication skills
Communication should work in two directions: expressing ideas, instructions and opinions in a clear and assertive manner, and making the message heard and understood. A leader also has the ability to know how to listen and take into account all the opinions, individual and collective, that come to him.
2. Emotional intelligence
Researchers Salovey and Mayer (1990) initially characterized emotional intelligence as “the ability to deal with one’s own emotions and feelings and those of others, to discern those feelings, and to use that information to correspond – with specific actions”. Feelings mobilize the subject, which is why emotional intelligence is a key trait of the leader.
3. Ability to determine goals and objectives
Leading a group requires knowing what the roadmap should be to guide you. Without specific goals and objectives, the effort can be fruitless and the group can feel frustrated. The goals must be consistent with the capacity of the group: it is not effective to set unattainable goals.
4. Ability to plan and develop
Once the goals are set, it is essential to develop a plan to achieve them. This plan must plan all the actions to be taken, The times, the people who have to do them, the resources that will be used …
5. Proactive self-knowledge
A good leader must be aware of its virtues and must make the most of it. Obviously, he is also aware of his weaknesses and struggles to improve.
6. Personal development and peer support
A leader can grow while helping others to develop. To improve, you don’t have to do it “defensively”; he is not a slave to his group role or his reputation. It helps develop the group by teaching others, delegating tasks and creating spaces for action and communication so that others feel useful and valued.
He will try to find new and better ways to do things. This characteristic is fundamental in the context of a society which progresses at a rapid pace, with constant changes in technology, communications and high competitiveness.
He is aware that his position in the group gives him power, and knows how to use for the benefit of the whole. He is not selfish; uses his position to activate processes and energize potentials.
A good leader must be informed. No business can survive without leaders who know how to manage information. Knowing how to process information, interpret it correctly and intelligently, and then use it in the most useful and creative way, Is a key skill.
This last point is controversial. Some authors believe that the charisma trait has very disparate definitions, and that depending on which one is used, it will be a characteristic present in people with leadership skills, or not. And it is that, in fact, it seems that there are even some common facial characteristics among leaders.
Defining the concept as the ability to attract and elicit good feelings, gain attention, and be kind and empathetic in the eyes of others, charisma is a crucial trait in a good leader. Charisma can be formed by socializing and showing genuine interest in people. Charisma is linked to the absence of selfishness, A determining factor in perceiving a person as a leader.
Goleman, D. (2013). The power of emotional intelligence. Madrid: Ediciones B.
Molero, F. and Morales JF (2011). The Leader and His Group: Current Views on Leadership. Madrid. Publishing Alliance.
Sánchez Vázquez, JF (2010). Leadership: theory and applications. Pontifical University of Salamanca.