What is it that successful women leaders have that others do not? I was pondering this very question when I came across a thought-provoking list put together by the Women’s Leadership Exchange.
This made me start thinking about what I would put on my own list, and I came up with the seven traits listed below. By the way, these characteristics are necessary and essential to all leaders, men and women alike. What’s really great about these traits? Most of them can be learned or modeled.
- Vision. Successful women leaders have vision—both for themselves and for their businesses. They use their values as rudders, helping to guide their decisions, steer toward their goals, and stay on track. Their visions are clearly articulated and shared with others, so everyone can take part in creating the reality around them.
- Communication. Successful women leaders know that communication is a two-way street. They tell people what they need to know clearly, concisely, frequently, and honestly, but they are also gifted listeners. They truly hear what other people are saying, and respond appropriately. Excellent communicators let others know where they stand and what is expected of them, but also allow others to voice their own expectations.
- Strength of Character. Successful women leaders don’t just preach integrity, they “walk the talk.” They live in integrity and lead from their authentic selves. They have strong personal values, and allow these to guide their decisions and actions. They consistently stand up for what they believe is right.
- Emotional Intelligence. Successful women leaders have superb intrapersonal and interpersonal skills. That means not only are they self-aware and in tune with their own emotions and feelings, they recognize those of others. They live their lives respectfully, with an awareness and understanding of how their words, actions, and behaviors impact others around them.
- Relationship Building. Successful women leaders understand that successful businesses hinge on good relationships. They know that strong relationships breed commitment, loyalty, motivation, and ultimately, happiness. Maintaining and building strong relationships is integral to what they do on a daily basis
- Visibility. Successful women leaders lead by example, and position themselves as visible and active role models for other people. They are intentional about what they say and do, constantly thinking about how they impact and influence others around them.
- Principled Leadership. Successful women leaders are crystal clear on their values, and the principles on which they act as a leader. They do not sway from their principles and values.
As you read this list, think about the leadership skills that you currently have. Which one of the seven have you nailed? Which ones do you need to work on? How would you go about gaining more skill in some of the areas?
Some of these characteristics, such as communication and relationship building, are learned skills that you must practice to perfect. Others, such as principled leadership and strength of character, are traits you can begin to model right now. Make a commitment to yourself to develop each one of these essential traits, and you’ll begin to see your leadership gains at work through increased trust, confidence, motivation, and willingness to follow.
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