Traits of Great Leaders


Throughout my career, I have consistently experienced certain attributes in great business leaders.  The most admired and successful CEOs of our time have built their ability to lead upon this common set of traits.  Consider anyone you think is a great leader and you will find that they will exhibit three or more of the following:



Effective leaders know their job well and are familiar with the tasks their subordinates perform. A subordinate who sees that his leader does not know the hands-on details of the job will likely not respect that leader. Leaders cannot provide useful guidance to their followers if they are not familiar with their tasks.

Ken Chenault

Ken Chenault is Chairman and CEO of American Express.



Jeffrey Immelt

Leaders must be dedicated to a common objective and vision. When demotivation strikes, effective leaders leverage those common goals to re-focus and re-energize their followers. A committed leader is able to foster a broad sense of responsibility and commitment in his followers and help them perform their duties in a responsible manner.

Jeffrey Immelt is CEO of General Electric.



Courage isn't always about standing firm in the midst of life-threathening danger.  Effective leaders face changing business environments and the challenge those changes bring. Leaders who are able to navigate their teams through difficult changes will also able inspire confidence and courage in their subordinates.  Great leaders take responsibility when trouble arises and takes measures to correct rather than punish or shift blame to followers.

Richard Branson

Richard Branson is the Chairman of Virgin Group.



John Chambers

Great leaders must maintain and promote honorable character and in doing so they foster trust among their peers and followers. People desire to follow those they respect and trust. Leaders ultimately succeed or fail based upon their followers. If you are unable to inspire trust and confidence in your followers, you won't be able to motivate them.

John Chambers is Chairman and CEO of Cisco Systems.



Effective leaders are able to motivate their followers to do their part in achieving shared goals and objectives.  Those leaders A leader aims to develop a team spirit among his followers that yields a result that's greater than its parts. Good communications skills and understanding individual needs and concerns are both motivating factors that establish a positive rapport among team members.  An optimistic leader inspires hope.

Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett is Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway.



Joe Robles

Integrity and consistency are essential traits. Leaders who sacrifice their integrity lose credibility with their followers. Great leaders lead by their consistent example and remain faithful to their words. If they are not consistent then their unreliability undermines their authority.  A leader who is upright fosters trust.

Joe Robles is CEO of USAA.



Vision is about seeing the right goal as well as the path required to get there. A clear plan, no matter how difficult, fosters commitment and collaboration in pursuit of a shared goal.  Great leaders are not only able to develop such a vision but are able to focus and engage their followers by clearly communicating it to their followers.

Jeff Bezos

Jeff Bezos is the founder, president, CEO, and Chairman of