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What makes someone an effective leader?

Every business professional has likely seen his or her fair share of bosses. Some might be more like the stereotypical nightmare leaders who sit around barking orders at their subordinates while they plan their next vacation, while others may be looked up to as effective, passionate leaders who always manage to get things right. It's pretty easy to separate the good bosses from the bad based on your experiences alone, but what exactly is it that makes a good leader so effective? If you're writing a manager evaluation or you're striving to become a great leader yourself, consider the following effective leadership traits.

Takes risks
As Like A Team, a teamwork development resource, pointed out, effective leaders are always on the move trying to bring about positive changes, often using emerging business trends to do so. Many times, those trends come with a fair amount of risk, but it's a leader's job to recognize that failure is only a temporary setback. If you're so afraid of failure that you hold back and avoid taking new roads toward success, you'll never get there. Calculated risks are often better than spontaneous ones, and a good leader will know the difference.

Inspires and motivates
Most leaders couldn't get anywhere without the help of their teams, and the good ones realize that. That's why they strive to motivate and inspire their workers to do their best and take action. In a recent ProOpinion industry research poll, 41 percent of business professionals considered "Being able to motivate positive actions" the most important trait of effective leaders. As Forbes magazine pointed out, being able to inspire your team - particularly at the beginning of a startup - to see the vision of future successes is crucial. Motivating your team helps keep morale up and makes everyone feel invested in the company's accomplishments, which helps drive progress.

"Honest leaders inspire not just through words but through actions."

Values honesty
As Entrepreneur magazine pointed out, "honest leaders inspire not just through words but through actions." They consider trust an important factor in their success, and make it their job to ensure a good relationship with every worker. Strong relationships built on honesty are what make a team capable and successful in business. That's probably why 18 percent of business professionals considered "Building relationships through open dialogue" the most important aspect of an effective leader in ProOpinion's poll. If you can't trust your boss at a company, who can you trust? Probably no one.

Communicates well
To put it simply, if you can't communicate well, you can't be an effective leader, noted the University of Missouri. Speaking effectively in public and being able to communicate your ideas in writing are crucial to ensuring that your entire team understands what's necessary for success. Great leaders understand that they have to tailor their words to fit their audience, otherwise they may not be met with the reaction they're looking for.

People take cues from leaders all the time, whether it's how to dress in the workplace, what attitude to adopt toward a client or how to feel about a recent setback. If a leader dresses sloppily, is rude to a client and has a negative view of the company, his or her workers will likely follow suit. That's why it's important to impart confidence to your employees. Above all else, leaders should be confident in the success of the company and the efforts of their team. Staying calm and confident, particularly in stressful situations, encourages a team of workers to do the same.

Confidence in the business' success is crucial in an effective leader.Confidence in the business' success is crucial in an effective leader.

If you've ever had to make plans with someone who can't make up his or her mind about what to do, you know how important decisiveness is. Leaders are expected to be able to make decisions confidently, according to Entrepreneur. Making choices about the company itself and the people who work for it is part of a boss's everyday responsibilities, so it makes sense that decisiveness is key. However, it's important to note that rash decisions have no place in a business environment. Every choice needs careful deliberation and must fit into the business's overall objective.

According to Entrepreneur, conscientiousness embodies several aspects of a great leader, including how organized, thoughtful and forward-thinking someone is. Organization ensures that nothing gets lost in the shuffle of daily business. Thoughtfulness enables leaders to sympathize with their employees and offer helpful insight and support to push them toward their goals. A forward-thinking outlook is necessary for establishing short- and long-term goals that spur daily progress in the workplace.

Has a sense of humor
Finally, a good leader has to realize that having a sense of humor isn't a bad thing. Most business actions and decisions are not life-or-death, so if something doesn't work out, it's OK to shrug it off, smile and start planning how to get it next time. Short breaks from work help drive productivity, so don't be afraid to have fun with your employees and put work aside every now and then. This will help contribute to a happy, healthy environment that employees will look forward to working in.

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