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3 Key Traits of Successful Leaders

1. Listen to people as their BIGGEST self

2. Help people Remove OBSTACLES

3. Keep people in Action

These days, leaders are defined many different ways.

Charismatic, personable, visionary, etc.

These traits are all important, but come more naturally to some than others.

The 3 Key Traits of Successful Leaders explained below are cornerstone fundamentals for leaders at any stage in the game, and can be put into action immediately.

1. Listen to People as their BIGGEST Self

Leaders need followers if their dreams are going to come true. And why do people follow? I’d argue that people are inclined to follow others for two primary reasons.

First, they believe what that person is doing is important or is making a difference to a certain degree. Second, and more importantly, the person willing to follow feels like they matter. They get an intrinsic reward from contributing to the mission because their own sense of self grows when they work on it.

Naturally, that begs the question; “How do you get people to feel like they matter?”

If you’re a leader, this needs to be a question you’re constantly asking yourself.

A few helpful ideas to implement:

  • Assume People are Capable of Greatness:

Even when they haven’t given you a reason to think so, or even if they’ve given you evidence contrary to it. Look, the two of you are on a team together, and the reality is you need this person to perform at their highest level for you to be successful. So start there. When you’re explaining what needs to be done, get into their world and see what ideas they have and how they would go about problem solving.

Simple and plain, you find what you look for. When you look for the greatness in others, you often help them find it for themselves and become an even stronger leader they are willing to follow.

  • Gratitude Attitude:

Over time, it’s easy to take for granted the people on your team who are helping you achieve your goals. However, never forget that they are each full and rich human beings with goals and dreams of their own, and that as soon as you make them feel small, they’ll start looking for other things to do with their time.

It can be as simple as saying,

Hey Sandy, I just wanted to acknowledge your being on time again. You’re always so punctual and it’s something I really appreciate about you.


Hey Mark, A+ work in that last meeting. I loved how you pointed out {fill in the blank}. Thanks for always showing up so prepared!

Just be sincere with your praise and people will be so much more likely to enjoy working with you and contributing to your success.

  • Listen:

Please, for the love of all that is holy, when you ask a question, shut up, put the phone away, and actually listen to what the person has to say.

In a world of ever-increasing digitalization and screen time, if you can actively listen to someone else for a minute or two, you’re going to be laying a strong foundation for that relationship for years to come.

To actively listen, square your shoulders towards them, nod your head slowly as they speak to show them you’re hearing them clearly, and then when they stop talking, paraphrase what they’ve said before you start talking about the next idea so they know they are being heard.

When people feel heard, they’ll talk more, and you’ll get a wealth of good ideas you never had access to previously.

2. Help People Remove OBSTACLES

The second key trait of leadership is to help people remove obstacles. When someone has taken on a part of the work you’re leading, make sure to have regular communication with them to see what successes and failures they’re having. Let them know that they can be open and honest about what’s not working, because your highest goal is for a WIN-WIN-WIN, and that you want them to not only succeed, but to learn and feel supported in the process of carrying out their part of the mission.

To this end, when they bring up the areas where they feel stuck, make a note of it and see if there’s anything you can do to help them overcome that barrier. From technical limitations to soft skills to connecting with the right people, if you can accelerate your teams time to breakthroughs, they will generally find ways to go above and beyond for you and the team to ensure your continued support.

3. Keep People in ACTION

As a leader, it can be easy to try and ‘Just Do It’ all yourself. But the reality is, you are often your own bottleneck for growing your organization.

Being able to effectively delegate pieces of the puzzle means empowering others to handle things and trusting them to do a good job with it. It also means checking in regularly to see how progress towards the goal is going, and helping them find ways to continue making progress.

Too often, leaders delve out 'busy work' when they can’t think of what that person can do next, instead of looking at their own pile of tasks they’ll be working on until midnight and saying, “You know, these are the 8 things I’m working on today. Is there anything on this list that interests you that you’d like to get some experience working on?”

Letting others contribute to you is the fastest way to grow, both personally and towards your team’s overall mission.

There you have it, the 3 Key Traits of Leadership that you can start implementing right now!

Put these ideas into action immediately with these suggestions!

1. Send an Out-of-the-Blue email to one of your team members and sincerely thank them for something they’ve done recently or how they consistently show up.

2. Go ask one of your team members how they’re doing and if there’s anything you can help them get out of their way.

3. Ask someone who’s Action Item list is getting low if there’s something they’d like to help you with!

The world needs better leaders, so here’s to your continued growth, development, and success.


With gratitude,

Dennis McGinley

Founder and Performance Coach @ STRIVENT

"Actualize your Potential!"


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