5 Essential Leadership Traits

And #1 will surprise you!

Great leaders help us to a future we couldn’t see. They inspire us.

I’ve been lucky enough to work for some really great leaders in our business, and like most of us, I’ve known my share of jerks who made it to the corner office.

As I think of the best of those best, I found there were common traits, and I believe they are not unique to radio leadership. I think they define the greatest leaders in every field.

5. Great leaders are honest, even when it’s hard to be. That doesn’t mean they are insensitive, but they won’t lie to you.

4. Great leaders trust. They give you a goal but let you find your own way to reach it, without micromanaging.

3. Great leaders are generous. They don’t take credit for the work and success they inspire, but they step forward and assume responsibility when failures occur.

2. Great leaders are kind. They put others before themselves. This is the hardest trait to find in today’s top leadership, regardless of industry, but especially now, in Radio. Self-sacrifice is a concept many could stand to re-learn.

1. Great leaders are emotionally intelligent. They reach you on an emotional level, not just an intellectual one, and they practice active empathy. It is this trait, more than any other, that makes us willing to attempt the impossible, to sacrifice personally for common goals.

Can these traits be learned? Maybe. Probably.

But the great leaders I’ve worked with didn’t have to work at any of these five. They were naturally gifted in each of these areas.

My sense is, right now, maybe for the past generation or two, we, as a society, have valued the wrong leadership traits. We’ve made money and personal fame our gods, placed individual wealth at the top of our scorecards, and turned our heads when those around us are mistreated or forgotten.

But it’s never too late to say “Stop!” To re-focus. To turn in a new direction. To change.

And therein lies our hope.