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A true leader isn’t defined by the position they hold or the title they carry. The essence of real leadership is revealed through their qualities and actions. Below are the seven essential traits that distinguish a true leader. Reflect on whether you possess these skills and share your thoughts on this article.

1. Create a Safe Environment for Open Expression

True leaders don’t use their titles or ranks to intimidate others. They ensure that, regardless of experience or position within the organization, a climate is fostered where every team member feels safe to express their opinions freely and without fear. Creating a safe space for open and honest discussion is fundamental.

2. Make Tough Decisions, Not Just Popular Ones

Effective leaders can make decisions that are sometimes popular and, at other times, not so much. They prevent teams from falling into unnecessary and time-wasting cycles. They encourage constructive dialogue and, when needed, make crucial decisions themselves, whether by empowering others or taking the reins directly.

3. Challenge Others’ Thinking Constructively

Successful leaders use their knowledge, experience, and intuition to challenge and expand their teams’ thinking. They push them beyond their comfort zones, encouraging innovative thinking and solid, coherent arguments. They foster a free and safe environment that promotes innovation, critical thinking, and respectful debates.

4. Lead with Consistency

Consistent leaders understand that they are being watched and approach their work with humility and responsibility. They recognize their role as role models and manage their teams with maturity and balance. Consistency between what they say and do is vital to gaining and maintaining their team’s trust.

5. Reward Both Results and Effort

A true leader knows the importance of rewarding achieved results but also values effort and hard work, even if the expected outcomes are not met. This duality in rewarding is crucial for maintaining motivation and encouraging continued effort towards improvement.

6. Ask Questions and Seek Feedback

Leaders aren’t afraid to ask questions or actively seek constructive criticism. Even though others might see them as all-knowing, true leaders come down from that pedestal and, with humility, recognize themselves as eternal learners. They are always willing to listen and learn from others.

7. Invest in Relationships and Value Their Professional Brand

A genuine leader focuses on elevating other leaders, naturally expanding their sphere of influence. This strategy not only strengthens their personal and professional brand but also enhances their negotiation capabilities for future repositioning or parallel entrepreneurial endeavors. An effective leader never forgets they are both a professional and a person.

Remember: If you hold a leadership position, strive to be a true leader. If you want to delve deeper into this topic, I invite you to join my retreat at this year’s Leadership Summit.

How many of these seven qualities do you see in yourself and your boss? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Thank you for reading!


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