Blog > March 2021 > Five Key Traits to Become a Great Leader

Five Key Traits to Become a Great Leader

In ASG’s Women Leaders in Technology program, the idea of leadership comes up often. What makes a good leader? What makes a good woman leader? Today, women still are not encouraged to take on leadership roles as often as their men counterparts. According to IDC, the percentage of women in senior leadership positions grew from 21% to 24% between 2018 and 2019. There has been progress, but there is still work to be done to ensure a fair balance of women and men leaders.

Since my first leadership role at a young age – at a predominantly "man-run" company, no less – I have been passionate about helping others understand the role of a “true” leader. Having the title alone does not make you one.

Regardless of gender, what makes a good leader depends on a person’s individual strengths and personality traits. There isn’t one silver bullet – though there are common themes. In my experience, great leaders possess five key traits.

  1. Humility

Don’t mistake humility for lack of confidence. In order to gain your team’s trust, you must have humility. Great leaders know how to strike a balance in which humility is not confused with weakness. They also don’t brag about their accomplishments, rely on “I” statements or presume they have the final word on every topic. A true leader recognizes they are not better or above their teams.

  1. Empowerment

This brings me to the second trait of a good leader: empowerment. A leader empowers you to do your job and often seeks input from team members. They find opportunities to let you shine, even in front of higher-ups in the company. Again, it isn’t “I” or “me,” it’s “we,” or better yet calling out the specific team member. Great leaders use their influence and experience to empower others to do their best and reach for the sky.

  1. Honesty

Leaders should embody honesty and fairness and encourage it in their teams. Doing so is easier said than done. Once that trust is broken, it is hard to gain it back – which is true in both your professional and personal lives. If you give your team the impression that all your goals are self-centered, that trust can be weakened over time. Being as transparent as possible goes a long way in building honest, supportive professional relationships that will deliver even better results for you and your team.

  1. Communication

Leaders need to strike the right balance with communication. Generally, employees appreciate leaders who over-communicate. How is the business performing? What opportunities and challenges are we facing? What feedback do you have? What’s the plan?  Communication is even more important in times of crisis, as shown by the past year. While leaders don’t have to articulate every thought or concern about the business, it’s important that they are actively transparent. Communicative leaders can serve as a beacon of strength, a voice of reason and a source of trusted information when teams need it most.

  1. Accountability

Accountability is the culmination of the other four key traits. Leaders must be held accountable for their wins and losses. They must practice humility when results fall short of a goal, rather than being defensive. They must be honest with teams in these moments and tell them what they need to hear, not what they want to hear. They must communicate goals and strategies with teams and empower each member to hold the leader accountable to those success metrics. Whether it’s delivering on a promise or following through with a strategy, teams will rally behind the accountable leader – in good times and bad.

Each of us have these traits within us. The best leaders are the ones who know how to draw them out, hone them as skills and put them to work for their teams. If you’re interested in honing your leadership skills, be sure to join our Women Leaders in Technology Coffee Talk on International Women’s Day, March 8, at 11:00 a.m. ET. Register here.