Leadership Series: Important Leadership Traits

You may be the boss, but are you a leader? If you’re a leader, are you an effective leader? While many characteristics can elevate you to leadership status, there are a few fundamental qualities of a good leader that are crucial to the vitality of a business.

CWS, Inc. CEO and owner Alan De Keyrel took time to contemplate and share the most important attributes of a leader, as well as how these attributes are best demonstrated to team members.


Alan: Humility is one of the best qualities a leader can have, but it is also incredibly difficult to demonstrate. In short, don’t take all of the credit. Build up your team and give them due praise. Know that success comes from those you build up.

Me: How is a business affected when humility is not practiced by the leadership team?

Alan: People are highly motivated when they feel they are “winning” at their job. If the boss is not acknowledging team members’ efforts and wins, morale is weakened. It weakens further if it appears the boss is attributing the team’s success to his/her own management style. When morale is down, you see a fall in productivity followed by losses in revenue.

Me: Not everyone practices humility. What is the first step to acquiring this trait?

Alan: First, recognize when humility is not a strength of yours. It doesn’t mean you are not capable of being humble. Far from it. It means that you understand that this is a weak spot that needs improvement. The next step is to either start actively recognizing individuals yourself or develop a system that allows for people to feel recognized and celebrate for their wins.


Alan: Delegation is another difficult trait to practice. It’s easy to fall into the “if you want it done right, do it yourself” mentality. The fact is, you hired smart, capable people. Now let them do their jobs.
But—delegating doesn’t mean handing off tasks or a project to others and washing your hands of it. You still own a part of that project; therefore, you bear responsibility. Even if you have an entire team handling it, you should still check in from time to time.

Me: What makes delegation successful?

Alan: Delegation is successful when communication and expectations are clear. When directions are inconsistent or incomplete, those tasks will not be carried out correctly, which will set back the project. A leader should recognize his or her own strengths or weaknesses as a delegator, as well as the delegating abilities of their staff. When people give up on delegating tasks, the team is in danger of burnout.


Alan: A learning-focused leader will create the best team. Period. Get your rockstar employees to collaborate, share, and coach others. Make learning the newest trends of the trade a major priority, and ensure that everyone gets up to speed. This strengthens the team and builds up the company as a whole.

Me: Doesn’t this require a lot of training time and internal meetings?

Alan: Yes! Cross-training is often the first task to fall off the list because everyone wants to focus on customers, services, and the actual work. But leaders need to make the time. Embrace the idea that you are investing in a stronger team by allowing for teaching/sharing opportunities.


Alan: Transparent leadership includes open and honest communication with your team. You need to communicate the good and the bad to your staff. If you only talk about the good things, especially when there are issues that need addressing, everyone is left out of the loop. On the other hand, discussing the bad stuff only is demoralizing for the team. You have to find the perfect combination of both.

Me: You mentioned keeping the team in the loop. Should they really know all of the details surrounding your organization?

Alan: At CWS, we share revenue numbers with our staff. Why? So no one assumes everything is good, bad, or whatever. It inspires genuineness and makes for a true team. The staff feels more invested in the success of the business and wants to contribute to those numbers. One of our company principles is Act like an owner. Everyone is encouraged to find ways to add to revenue, decrease costs, etc.

Me: How can leaders create a more transparent culture without any negative setbacks of a more open and honest workplace?

Alan: Gossip and coworker issues can easily kill a company. That’s why our company is gossip-free. No, seriously. If a team member is having an issue with a coworker, our policy has them either speak directly to that individual or bring that issue to someone who has the means to help. That is key.
Don’t discuss your problem with someone who can’t actively create a resolution. Everyone is encouraged to gently remind individuals not to gossip, and it’s crucial that leadership keeps this policy a high priority.

Final Thoughts

Humility + Delegation + Learning-Focused + Transparency = TRUST

Alan: When you combine all of these attributes, they create the ultimate leadership trait: Trust. Trustworthiness is not listed as a stand-alone trait because you cannot gain trust without the other characteristics listed above. A team that trusts their leadership will support and work hard for that leadership. The result is a happy, productive, and lucrative organization.
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