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Traits of a Successful Leader

Updated on July 23, 2014

On the day of his assassination, John F. Kennedy said to a Dallas community, “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” (Kennedy, 1963) There is no leader in history that hasn’t learned from someone what it takes to become successful. These days too many people graduate school with their degrees without ever learning these lessons. Each person has it in them to be a successful leader. In order become this they need to know what the word “LEADER” stands for.


The L stands for Listen; you want to listen to your employees, see their qualities and strengths they bring to the group. The E stands for Energy; you need to take positive energy into every situation of the job no matter your feelings of those circumstances. The A stands for Attentiveness; you want to be attentive to the issues and be able to deal with them without disrupting the company union. The D stands for Decisive; you want to be able to make those tough decisions when problems arise, no matter how hard it may be to tackle those issues. The E stands for Equal; you need to understand that everyone is equal in the workforce, and you’re not greater than they are just because you have the leadership title. The R stands for Reward; in this day and age everyone wants to be recognized for their effort and hard work.



In order to gain this reward at the end, one must first become an excellent listener, which is an essential part in the development of a leader. To achieve this goal, you would want to ask your staff a lot of open-ended questions. When you ask those questions, you will have the opportunity to hear them. When you do, you have the opportunity to see their motivations, body language and issues. If you can help solve those issues it can bring your team into being a more cohesive unit.


When you have this unified team they are more willing to follow your directions. This is when you want to promote positive energy in your words and actions when you give them instructions for the day. If you have a negative attitude during this process then you shouldn’t blame them if they don’t work up to the standards that you have set. If you have positive attitude in every aspect of your work, your employees will follow suit, and the final product will make it easier for everyone to excel at their jobs.



In addition to having a positive energy, a good leader must also be aware. The naïve manager never suspects that anything is going wrong with his staff. But the veteran manager is attentive enough to know when his workers are happy, frustrated, tired, or upset. When you identify issues within your group, it is your responsibility as an employer to resolve the issue in a timely manner without upsetting the balance of the group.



When the balance of the group is affected, employees want their employer to be decisive in their decisions. The manager that isn’t decisive or unwavering in their decisions will quickly lose the respect of those they lead. The employer that looses the respect of those they manage, may sometimes never get it back. To keep the respect of those they manage they need to be an influential leader, which means they need to make the decisions to complex problems and receive immediate solution for those problems.



In the process of trying to solve those problems you need to make sure that you don’t put yourself above your staff. A true leader is not a dictator, but a part of a democracy. He creates an environment in which everyone has an equal opportunity to express their own opinions and suggestions, but it is the leader’s responsibility to make sure those suggestions take the company where it wants to go. Tom Landry said once about leadership, “Leadership is getting someone to do what they don’t want to do but to achieve what they want to achieve.” (N.D.) When your staff feels that they made a contribution to the company you will get the biggest result from them.



The greatest happiness of any leader is when he witnesses his employees succeeding. This part of being a leader is the most satisfying, especially when you have spent the time and effort to mold this cold unrefined coal into the diamond in the rough. When you help your employees accomplish something you want to reward them for their diligent effort. However, in today’s society, employees although happy, are looking for more gratification from their current job. This sense of pride and self-worth is a large issue for most people. If your staff feels they are making a difference, they are easily more persuaded to follow company guidelines and directives that you have in place. And those employees usually work well with others.

When you listen to your employees, bring positive energy into every situation, and are attentive to their wants and needs, you will have a good working environment. In addition, having a firm hand when making decision, showing your staff that you value their opinions, and rewarding them for their efforts, will make your job as a leader more manageable because happy employees have fewer problems to tackle. This will give you more time to help your team succeed. In my years in the business world, I have had many mangers that have embellished the true meaning of the word “Leader.” It is those managers that have gotten the best out of me. And it is those true leaders that I have patterned my experience on, when I have had the opportunity to be a “Leader.”


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    • Cory Tarwater profile imageAUTHOR

      Cory Tarwater 

      4 years ago from Orem, UT

      Glad you enjoyed it. I take these keys into every management opportunity I have.

    • jharris64 profile image

      John Harris 

      4 years ago from Athens, AL

      A lot of good applications from this...thanks!!

    • Cory Tarwater profile imageAUTHOR

      Cory Tarwater 

      4 years ago from Orem, UT

      Took many years to come up with these terms. Thanks for the comment.

    • profile image

      Ann. whetten 

      4 years ago

      Love the acronym. Gives me something to think about thx


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