Top 5 Timeless Productive Executive Traits

When you type in the term “leadership qualities” into Google, you are met with literally millions of articles, blogs, and entries that aim to define the most productive executive traits. While many are obvious and on-trend such as the ability to delegate, being purpose-driven, and diplomatic, we have put together another list of leadership qualities that are deeper and a bit more time-tested.    

1. Humility

The best executives are said to be a lot of things. But one certain characteristic of a good leader is their ability to be humble. Being humble means caring for others, being opening to their opinions, and admitting your own mistakes. It means taking the teams failures as your own but celebrating successes as a whole.  

What’s more, research published in the Administrative Science Quarterly journal found that humility among leadership is correlated with employee engagement and performance. So, if you want your employees to want to work, you’ll need to stay humble.

2. Cooperation and Communication

Cooperation is another base skill essential to an effective leader. And a leader’s ability to cooperate with other members of their team and other teams is dependent on their capacity to engage in other characteristics like empathy, insightfulness, and generosity. Sound familiar? That’s because cooperation is intimately tied up with communication. Your ability to communicate will directly impact your ability to cooperate. So, while you think you’re working on one skill, you’re actually aiming for two.

3. Courage

Where could courage possibly fit into executive leadership? You’re not exactly leading a trek into deepest, darkest Peru. However, courage is at the foundation of leadership. Aristotle said, “Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees the others.” It takes courage to be transparent. Courage is required for picking yourself up when you fall. You can’t be honest, open, authentic or confident without a little bit of courage.

4. Decisiveness

Decisiveness is not about your ability to make a decision. No, it’s about your ability to see the decision you’ve made through. Although management in the 21st century has largely been dedicated to agility in the face of change, some things must be decided before take-off. Your mission, your goals, and the way you treat people are all decisions that need to be made – and they need to be stuck with.  

5. Optimism

Optimists are the cheerleaders that their teams need when the future looks uncertain. They’re great at rallying people together around a common cause and reaching goals. An optimistic leader can inspire superhuman efforts because they help the team understand how to make life better. All of this may sound trite until you remember that optimists don’t just have a sunny disposition – they see the bigger picture. When you can see the whole painting, it’s easier to surmount the obstacles in front of you. 

Now, if you’ve paid attention, you’ll have noticed that all of these leadership qualities aren’t merely single traits. They tend to interact and support your abilities as a whole. Ultimately, to be a productive executive, you need an arsenal of different traits that help you in meeting each challenge that comes along.