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6 Intangible Character Traits of a Great Leader

6 Intangible Character Traits of a Great Leader

The most successful leaders have an uncanny ability – an intuition, if you will – to remain vigilant to changing circumstances, to adapt and invent when necessary, and to motivate and inspire others. 

Successful leaders exhibit these intangible character traits with such ease and aptitude that it often appears as if they were “born with it.” On the contrary, these traits can be analyzed and broken down into tangible skills that can be learned and applied. 

Trait 1: An Entrepreneurial Mindset

Being an entrepreneur goes well beyond owning a business. True entrepreneurs are visionaries; they’ve seen ahead to all the possibilities of what can be. They have the ability to not only see the big picture, but to create it. Billionaires are not only problem solvers; they blaze trails by creating things that have not been done before. 

Learn More: Forbes: 6 Tips for Growing with an Entrepreneurial Mindset

Trait 2: Relentless Work Ethic

Billionaires aren’t made overnight. And while many creative business owners have had an amazing idea or a means of turning that idea into action, it’s the sustained ability to work towards something consistently, day after day and year after year, that allows the greats to finally see the fruits of their labor.  A strong worth ethic is the backbone to a productive and thriving business. Without employees and CEOs energized to accomplish daily goals, businesses fail to be competitive and will lose the momentum to remain at the top of their game.

This includes the skill of coming back to the drawing board, revisiting and reevaluating methods and means that may or may not be working, and adjust accordingly. If the desire and the follow-up action is there, then success is just a matter of time.

Strong work ethics aren’t something you are handed at birth, in school or when entering your career; they are a set of moral standards each person must learn, practice and accept to be respected and trusted among other employees and CEOs. Strong work ethics will improve your career goals and are vital for a company.

Trait 3: Warmth and Empathy

Far from being business dictators with a “my way or the highway” approach, the greatest leaders exhibit uncanny warmth and empathy.  This makes them relatable and likeable and inspires others to want to work for them. 

Forging friendships, business relationships and negotiating mutually beneficial deals takes skill in relational understanding and communication. 

"The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things." 

--Ronald Reagan

Trait 4: Creativity

All billionaires are able to invent and create things that have never been done before. To see things from a different perspective allows a leader to take a common idea and turn it inside-out. Much like empathy, creativity stems from the skill of being able to understand the consumer, his or her problem, and come up with a solution to that problem. 

Trait 5: Never Content or Satisfied 

Those that become easily satisfied become content, and content breeds complacency. Billionaire leaders are never content; in contrast, they are constantly striving to make a solution even better – be it more efficient, more delightful, or more productive. 

Their first million was a milestone to be celebrated, but not an end point; it was simply the launching point for the next million. 

Learn More: Why the Best Leaders are Never Satisfied with ‘Good Enough’

Trait 6: Willingness to Learn

The best leaders will always remain coachable. Nobody is born with all the answers or solutions. And even to get to a certain measure of success, there are mentors, colleagues, teachers and even employees to thank for the role each of them has played. 

Benchmarks continue to be raised and sights are constantly set higher as we grow both personally and professionally. It’s important to find like-minded, trusted advisors to develop meaningful relationships with as a means to help further a leader’s growth and development. 

Read: Learning from Failure

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Research

Vistage Research Center publishes actionable, data-driven insights and expert perspectives from our global community of CEOs and thought leaders. Led by Joe Galvin, Chief Research Officer