Top of Mind: What Characteristic Does Every Leader Need?

It’s important to embody strength and warmth in order to really engage and captivate the people around you. This will help them feel connected, supported and excited about working with you while following your lead.

—Julie Greenbaum, co-founder and chief revenue officer of FCancer

Confidence and communication are just crucial. You’ve got to have those down pat. In terms of communication, it’s just as important to listen effectively as it is to communicate effectively. When speaking, it’s not what you say, but what people hear. And when listening, it’s imperative to hear everything—not just what’s being said.

—Elizabeth Chambers, chief correspondent, Human Rights Foundation; co-owner, BIRD Bakery

I think vision is so important that it can’t be overstated. Leaders have to be able to inspire people to achieve goals that appear daunting and seemingly unachievable. At their best, leaders do this without authority but with authenticity. We follow our leaders because we believe we will be led to a better place.

—Apu Gupta, CEO of Curalate

All leaders need to be driven, fearless, inspiring, smart and skilled at listening to their team members. They also need to have the ability to assimilate all of the information coming their way so that they can make sense of it for the people they’re leading. Above all, they need to be able to influence and convince people to follow.

—Risa Edelstein, director of marketing at ECHOtape

Every leader needs confidence. A doubtful or worrisome leader can hurt an organization’s morale. Leaders must remain strong whether their organizations are going through ups or downs.

—Dan Sapozhnikov, co-founder of AdGate Media

A flexible and adaptable personality is an incredibly important characteristic of leadership. You need to take on different personas with different audiences. For example, with investors and customers, I try to project someone who is visionary, fearless and courageous. But then with my own team members, I often take a much more nurturing approach. I want to encourage them to try harder and to take risks, and I teach them that it’s OK to make mistakes.

—Zoë Barry, founder and CEO of ZappRx

No one will follow someone who they feel is untrustworthy. At the end of the day, you’re only as good as your word. Aim for mutual respect; if respect is lost on either side, success is no longer an option.

—Richard Rawlings, entrepreneur and host of Discovery Channel’s Fast N’ Loud

A leader has to communicate across the company about its long-term direction and her vision to media, investors, customers/clients, peers and potential employees. She also needs confidence. Regardless of the situation, never show your team or the public that you are worried; it will turn them off. She also needs a passion for the vision and internal grit to make it happen, regardless of the doubters.

—Joanna Weidenmiller, CEO of 1-Page

Confidence is needed to gain the trust of the people you expect to follow you. I think being educated and sure of what you are talking about is promising, too. The will and drive to get things done make a successful leader. I think that as a leader, it’s important to see the special spark in the people you hire, because they help your drive toward success.

—Draya Michele, actress, model and owner of Mint Swim and Fine Ass Girls

Do you have a good reputation as the boss? Know the 12 things all effective leaders do to make sure.

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