Managing People, Time and Work

Can Leadership Traits be learned?

Leadership traits are distinguishing qualities that enable us to lead effectively. Once we thought that some were born with leadership characteristics and that was the end of it.

A trait is an aspect of your character, or a quality of your personality, that makes you different from others. Many mistake traits for skills, but they are quite different. You can learn or acquire skills; they are what you do. Traits are inherent; they are who you are. This doesn’t mean you can’t acquire them.


Apart from developing skills and expertise in a field, a leader must also have specific traits to motivate her personnel, develop and sustain productivity and production, and respond to the changing business environment.

mount-rushmore-washingtonAre leaders born or made?

Of course, just because you were not born with any or all of these key traits does not mean you cannot be a good leader. Although not as easy to learn as skills, you can change who you are. You need to understand what these characteristics are meant to do and how you can use them. Here are a few, but key, leadership traits:


A positive outlook is a healthy quality any leader should possess. While optimists may sometimes be thought unrealistic, it is a healthy attitude to believe that you or your company can tackle any problem and complete even difficult goals.

A leader’s attitude to the project affects employees’ attitudes. A leader who has negative expectations and pessimism may just find exactly what she hoped for. Highly energetic individuals are often great motivators.


This is the ability to bounce back. When things are bad, a good leader will stay strong. Whatever unexpected problem comes up, an effective leader looks at the situation calmly and takes action quickly.

The leader will also see the opportunities in problems and changes to plans, using both to their advantage (reframing). This leadership trait is also about the confidence to know that you can and will bounce back no matter what.


Group members look to the leader for what to do next. Therefore, leaders cannot afford to be either hasty or indecisive. Taking responsibility for the team is inspiring and gains the respect of others. Learn to trust your decisions by taking small risk free ones – like choosing from a menu quickly.

Persistence and perseverance

A good leader does not back down. Once they have decided on a best solution, a leader should not stop until the work is complete, the job successful, or else, contrary information requires plan B. A healthy achievement drive rubs off on employees.

Healthy attitude to risks

Risk takers are not ideal leaders, but then neither are the overly cautious. Calculated risks are a necessary and common occurrence in leading people. The ability to gather information from many sources is an important part of healthy risk taking. Employees are a vast untapped source of diverse information in most organizations.


Gaining trust and respect is a crucial part of a harmonious working environment, and increasing productivity. You cannot effectively lead people who have no respect for you and have been disappointed in the past. With integrity comes reliability, trustworthiness, and the credibility that you are able to accomplish what you promise.

NLP techniques can be very useful in developing these leadership traits. NLP Modeling in particular enables a leader to understand the structures and strategies of these traits.

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