Essential Leadership Traits, Part One


Last time we met in this space, we talked about finding your own leadership style by paying attention to the leadership traits you admire in others. And as promised, I’m back with my top essential leadership traits.  

Leadership looks a bit different for every conscious leader; however, in my experience, these are the essential leadership traits that really get things done:

1. Courage, with Passion

Did you know that Commitment + Doubt + Action = Courage? If you lead from your heart, and you’re committed to the journey and focused on the outcome, you can have doubt—that’s okay. What matters is that you act anyway and do it with passion. What’s important is that your movement is always in a forward direction and that you are willing to do whatever it takes, as long as no one gets hurt and the result is the highest good for all involved.

2. Empathy

You may already know that empathy means having the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and to imagine how they must feel.

Conscious leaders know there’s more: empathy means having compassion for yourself as well.

Too many of us beat ourselves up about choices we’ve made, and we carry that guilt around with us, attracting punishment and allowing it to affect the ways in which we interact with others. Great leaders have compassion for themselves and know they’re innocent. They do not shoulder others’ problems, but they show profound kindness and strive to understand others’ feelings and circumstances.

3. Effective Communication

The more time a leader spends in compassionate communication, the greater the potential for making a difference. Effective communication has many different facets, including…

  • Listening
  • Being Present
  • Telling the Truth with Compassion

Also important is recognizing and adjusting to different communication types. The other person might be Dominant, an Influencer, Steady, or Compliant and Conscientious. Failure to distinguish between behaviors could result in a communication shutdown. Even if a leader doesn’t prefer to communicate in a particular way, adjusting to the people they’re interacting with will help to forge connections.

4. Emotional Intelligence

As a leader, you will learn that many times, people will not tell their truth. Emotional intelligence is the ability to go behind the words to feel and understand what they’re really saying.

This involves…

  • Interpreting Nonverbal Behavior
  • Recognizing when Fear is Causing Fight, Flight, or Freeze Responses
  • Responding Rather than Reacting
  • Managing Overwhelming Stress
  • Hearing and Being Heard

5. Personal Responsibility

When someone stops blaming, shaming and making excuses—and takes responsibility for their own thoughts, beliefs and actions—they are demonstrating what it means to be a true leader.

If we BMW (Bitch, Moan, Whine), it might feel good, but nothing changes and nothing gets done.

6. Synergy

A great leader understands that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. He or she knows that 1+1 can equal 3 if everyone involved respects one another and knows that if they work together, the result will be greater than what any person could accomplish on their own.

Skillful leaders know that synergy is a building block in high-performance groups, families and teams.

Essential Leadership Traits for Conscious Leaders

Those are just six of my thirteen top essential leadership traits—ones I believe are critical to becoming a conscious, courageous, effective leader. Until we meet here again, seek out leaders who demonstrate these qualities and learn from them. Look for simple ways you can exercise these traits in your everyday life, in every interaction with others.

And always be on the lookout for ways to be courageous, to be present, to set a standard…so you can move toward becoming the conscious leader your family, your group, your business, your community or your world needs today. Stay tuned for the rest of my list of leadership traits and stop in at to learn more about what’s happening in the Conscious Leadership Academy. And don’t forget to choose an upcoming One-Day Essence of Leadership event. The world needs conscious, courageous leaders who possess essential leadership traits now more than ever.