By Colleen Kettenhofen

“A good example is the best sermon.” ~ Anonymous

In this struggling economy, effective leadership is more important than ever. The business environment is more competitive.  Employees, team leaders and managers must be performing at maximum capacity and producing top results. What are some of the core competencies necessary for being an effective leader? How do you keep your employees motivated and productive?

Practicing effective leadership means first and foremost, practicing effective people-skills. As you probably are aware, many bosses are promoted to leadership positions or management positions based on their hard skills or their technical skills. Yet many of the skills that got them promoted in the first place are not the skills they’ll use in managing people – especially managing difficult people – and resolving conflict. But whether you’re a manager of people, or simply a manage yourself, the following traits and characteristics are imperative to possess in your professional as well as personal life.

  1. Effective leaders are listeners. It’s not enough to give orders. Effective leaders must let others do some of the talking so they feel valued and respected. Even if that means some healthy venting within reason. Especially in organizations where there are layoffs and low morale.
  2. Effective leadership means keeping an open mind. Becoming a more powerful leader, especially in this economy, requires flexibility and maintaining an openness to change and new ideas  – even if you don’t always agree with someone.
  3. Effective leaders have vision. These people possess the ability to see their organization’s long and short term goals, and objectives. They understand where their company wants to be one year from now, and working backwards, know where they need to be nine months from now, six months from now, and so forth.
  4. Effective leadership requires clearly communicating that vision. It’s one thing for a person in a leadership role to have vision for the future and the direction they want to take their team. But it’s even more important that as an effective leader, they can clearly communicate and get their message across. Put simply, most powerful leaders are powerful communicators.
  5. Effective leaders can motivate a crowd with their strength, energy, and fire with a message that motivates people. I’m not referring to someone who has their head in the clouds, but rather a leader who has truly discovered specific techniques for inspiring their employees to achieve peak performance. Even as a parent, you want to be a source of inspiration.
  6. Effective leaders set high expectations and produce bottom-line results. The best managers know what motivates each employee. Great leaders instill confidence, put reward programs in place, and motivate team members to exceed expectations.
  7. Effective leaders are educated on the day-to-day approach of each employee’s job. In my leadership programs, participants tell me that their best manager ever was one who could “speak the language.”  In other words, the manager had true understanding of the employee’s job, time constraints, problems and challenges. In some cases, the best managers have often done the job themselves.
  8. Effective leadership requires transparency, honesty and accountability. This has never been more apparent than it is today! According to research, the number one trait people desire to see to willingly want to follow their leader is honesty. A leader can be intelligent, have vision, a plan of action, and be a great orator.  But if people don’t trust them, it’s difficult to get them on board. Ultimately, that type of leader has the title, but not the influence and respect.
  9. Effective leaders have influence. The true test of leadership is whether or not your employees want to follow you.
  10. Effective leaders give credit where credit is due. They are secure enough in themselves to give honest sincere recognition to those who deserve it.
  11. Lastly, when I ask my workshop participants what qualities they want to see in their leaders, “straightforward” is frequently mentioned. They often say that “even if it’s bad news,” they’d rather the leader be straightforward about it, which goes back to the number one trait people need to see…honesty.

“The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.”
~ Socrates


Colleen Kettenhofen is an award-winning speaker, author, media veteran, and devoted animal lover who has presented keynotes and seminars before thousands in 48 U.S. states and five foreign countries. She has conducted more than 1,100 programs on leadership, dealing with difficult people, presentation skills, and change/stress management. Colleen is the author of “Secrets Your Boss Isn’t Telling You,” as well as the creator of 10 unique audio programs. For more information, or to sign up for Colleen’s newsletter, visit (971) 212-0479.