10 Good Leadership Characteristics

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As schools try to prepare students for successful careers and lives for the 21st Century, many are finding that they need to incorporate more curriculum dealing specifically toward developing leaders. In determining what precisely to teach, instructors might consider 10 good leadership characteristics noted by successful entrepreneurs in the business world.


Good leaders approach situations from a positive perspective that cuts through non-essentials. They ask questions, weigh all sides and listen more than they talk.


Great leaders take action. They factor in relevant information, but they do not postpone decisions until they are 100 percent sure. Such avoidance of risk-taking seldom results in effective outcomes.

Courage to Change

Successful leaders possess the courage to make changes, even when nothing seems to be going wrong. Making changes ahead of possible problems results in increased success, just as a captain begins turning a ship before he reaches the turning point.

Awareness of Self and Others

Leaders know themselves, and they study others to determine what methods best work. They factor in styles of organizations and individuals as well as their own make-up to best achieve results.


Effective leaders possess a high degree of self-esteem. They need this characteristic to take on difficult projects.

Need to Achieve

Excellent leaders have a drive powered by a desire to perform at their best and to achieve. Harvard psychologist David McClelland observed that children develop this need to achieve from their parents.


Effective leaders have a high level of self-control as well as a control over situations that confront them. They seldom blame fate, luck, the system or the administration. Instead, they assume control and see what they can do to steer situations into productive directions.

Goal Orientation

A common characteristic among leaders is that they are oriented toward accomplishing goals. Well defined goals become guiding stars that drive their activities.


Even when all about him are losing faith and pessimistic views reign supreme, a great leader pulls himself up and forges ahead and maintains a positive vantage point. This trait enables him to deal with set-backs that occur in any business endeavors.


A great leader does make mistakes. He learns from them and grows into wisdom founded upon experience. Life is all about education, and there is no better teacher than having failed at something and grown from the overall experience.



About the Author

Carrie Keathley served as a high school English teacher for more than 30 years. She now writes for various websites. Keathly earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Wesleyan College, a Master of Arts in English education from East Carolina University and is certified in teaching the academically gifted.

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