Focus on These 5 Traits to Help You Stand Out as a Leader

Some people believe leaders are born while others assume leadership can be obtained — regardless of which group you belong to, there are certain traits that will surely land you on this year's top leaders list.

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By Ivan Popov

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Ever since I was little, I found myself completely drawn to the success stories of leaders and role models. As I read on, I quickly realized it was not simply their success that I found interesting — it was their character that truly intrigued me.

Success is obviously great: It can take you places through motivation and useful know-how. But what stays with you and inspires you along the way of your personal self-development and growth are the people you admire who managed to bring success to the table.

That's why I began investigating the personas of the most influential and successful people I've read about throughout the years. To this day, I still believe this digging of mine was the ultimate lesson I got about leadership. Today, more and more people anticipate the opportunity to step into the world of business and become managers — so I thought it would be quite useful to discuss some of the most important character traits that turn a boss into a leader.

Related: 10 Secrets of Successful Leaders

There's an enormous difference between a boss and a leader

While being a boss may easily be explained as someone whose job is to give orders and micromanage their team, being a leader has to do more with influencing, supporting and leading by example (among other things).

Being a leader is closely connected with being an actual part of the team. However, their job is not only to manage the project and assign tasks like a boss; leaders care deeply, not only for the company's success (and their own), but for their employees' professional and personal growth as well.

We often say leaders lead by example because they work as hard as everybody else, support others by offering useful guidelines and honest feedback, and they carry full responsibility for the team.

In a nutshell, leaders are those who, figuratively speaking, take full custody of their employees so they can truly excel at what they do.

Regardless of whether you believe leaders are born or made in the process, there are certain characteristics and traits all successful individuals carry within themselves — they are the very reason those people are truly successful at what they do. What's more, those characteristics are rarely hard skills. While hard skills are essential from an employee's perspective, soft skills are what truly help the leader succeed at their management mission.

Related: Why You Need to Stop Micromanaging Your Team and Learn to Let Go

Here are 5 traits that shape a leader's success on the job

If you who read this aspire to become a successful leader one day, then I suggest you closely examine the traits listed down below.

  1. Nurturing empathy. Empathy in leadership is as important as being great with deadlines and customer communication. An empathetic leader is someone who manages to truly understand, support and care for their team. In a work environment, people often face burnout, experience hardships or find themselves in awe in front of hundreds of unforeseen situations and obstacles. Getting guidance and support from their leader is perhaps one of the most bonding experiences for people that enhances mutual feelings of respect and loyalty. Putting yourself in someone else's shoes is a crucial part of successful leadership.
  2. Accepting diversity in all its forms. One of the greatest aspects of being in charge of a diverse team is the chance to communicate daily with a plethora of interesting and inspiring individuals. A good leader is someone who definitely accepts diversity and even praises it since it delivers enrichment of thoughts, opinions and, essentially, expertise. There's no really a place for narrow-minded people in the leadership position.
  3. Cherishing feedback. Giving and receiving honest feedback is perhaps the best communication strategy when it comes to successful team leadership. Sharing their opinion on someone else's performance is a great way for the leader to enhance the employees' chances for even greater professional success. In addition to this, leaders should be open to feedback anytime as well.
  4. Delegating work with respect. Yes, leaders are supposed to delegate tasks and distribute the work but this should be done in a respectful way that honors people's boundaries. Successful leaders usually ask their employees if it would be okay to take on a specific task. This attitude immensely strengthens the bond between the leader and the team members.
  5. Accepting failure as an opportunity to learn. Unsuccessful leaders tend to blame their team whenever they all stumble upon failure in a project. A successful leader, however, would change perspectives trying to investigate the core reason for occurred failure and would see it as an opportunity to learn from mistakes and deliver better results the next time around.

Related: How Successful Leaders Communicate With Their Teams

Successful leaders all over the world cherish both the professional growth and the personal well-being of their team. The best combination of hard and soft skills is perhaps the ultimate way toward inspiration, teamwork and mutual development for the greater good.

Ivan Popov

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

CEO and Tech Lead of Vipe Studio

Ivan Popov serves as the CEO of Vipe Studio, which establishes and maintains WordPress-based websites for enterprises and SMEs. He is always curious about technology, web and software development, WordPress, sports, journalism, leadership, entrepreneurship and all things mental health.

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