By Colleen Kettenhofen

Do people in your world willingly follow you?

If you put yourself in the shoes of those around you, would you want to work for you? Be honest! If the pay, perks, and benefits your people get didn’t depend on doing what you ask, would they still want to follow you?

The real test of leadership is influence. Would your subordinates describe you as someone who influences them? And if you’d like to be promoted, do you have the needed credibility, confidence, and communication skills to effectively influence others?

Look around and you’ll see that many managers get promoted by doing an outstanding job in a previous position. However, they haven’t benefited from taking management training that emphasizes resolving conflict and improving communications in the workplace. As a result, the technical skills that got them promoted aren’t a fit for managing employees—especially the difficult ones!

For more than 16 years, I have conducted keynotes and seminars on improving leadership within organizations. In the process, I’ve heard repeatedly what traits people, including managers, want to see from those in leadership roles. They’ve helped me identify seven traits that can be applied far and wide—whether you’re a boss, a parent, or even a friend who wants to excel.

These top seven traits are:

  1. Integrity. Do you possess personal integrity? Remember, people will look to see if you actually do what you say you’ll do. This is common sense, but as you know, common sense isn’t commonly applied! My dad was in upper management with a “big four” accounting firm and a captain in the U.S. Navy. He’d often say, “They remember your last act.” That means people watch to see if your actions match your words. The minute you can’t deliver on your promises, you are out of integrity and you lose credibility.
  2.  Vision. A lot of employees don’t know their organization’s overall goals and objectives. An integral part of leadership is first having a forward-looking vision and then being able to communicate that vision to inspire team members. How? By tying in the organization’s objectives with the employees’ personal values.
  3. Supportive listening skills. It’s been said the average person listens to what you have to say only 25% of the time. It’s easy to get caught up in your own “stuff” and not really listen—and it doesn’t only happen with teenagers! Listen closely and think before you speak. Some people need supportive listening so they can vent their frustrations—within reason, of course. When you do that for them, they’re more likely to listen to you.
  4. Open-mindedness. It’s hard to listen if your mind isn’t open, or at least take time to acknowledge what your employees have to say (whether you agree or not). This goes for anyone you’re communicating with, whether you’re a boss or not. To gain respect, you often have to first show respect. Start by being open-minded.
  5. Strong communication skills. As stated earlier, many people get promoted by doing an outstanding job in a previous position. Yet the skills that got them the promotion aren’t necessarily the ones needed to manage people.  When working with others, having effective communication skills is a bare-bones survival skill that can be learned.
  6. Inspirational. Inspirational leaders have a passion for what they do and convey that passion to their people. Having a desire to provide team members with a purpose—both individually and as a team—is palpable and highly effective.
  7. Intelligence. Sometimes  participants say, “My manager has no idea what I do for a living—what my job entails, the challenges, and the time constraints.” Have you performed the job of each of your team members? If not, what intelligent questions can you ask to better educate yourself on exactly what their responsibilities entail?

Whatever your position, apply these tips for leading effectively, and you’ll become an outstanding role model for those you want to influence every day.

“A good example is the best sermon.”



Colleen Kettenhofen is an international leadership and change management expert. This award-winning corporate trainer and conference keynote speaker has delivered more than 1,100 entertaining programs in 48 U.S. states and five countries. A media expert, Colleen has been a guest on dozens of radio shows. Her 40+ articles on diverse workplace issues have appeared in publications nationwide.

Recently, Colleen interviewed 200+ managers and CEOs for her new book, Secrets Your Boss Isn’t Telling You. She has also published 10 audio programs and co-authored The Masters of Success. Her latest book Adopting Joy, will be released soon.

Colleen can assist your organization with successful leadership skills through her keynotes, seminars, and workshops. Be sure to visit for details call (971) 212-0479 in Phoenix, AZ.