Three Essential Traits of a Great Leader

Leader /lē-dər/ noun. The first one to arrive. The last one standing.

Photo by  Jehyun Sung  on  unsplash

Photo by Jehyun Sung on unsplash

For real? We laugh, but all too often that's the way it happens. As a leader, you might be wondering, "What am I really supposed to do?" There are many aspects of leadership, but the actual jobs of a leader can be defined in three basic descriptions.

Let's look at what the leader must do to succeed.

Click the image below to see a video on this model of leadership:


This video introduces Everything DiSC Work of Leaders®, exploring the "VAE" model of Vision, Alignment, and Execution. It is used with permission.


The book, "The Work of Leaders,” by Straw and Davis, is a meta-analysis of the writings and research of more than 300 organizational development experts. They also analyzed responses from hundreds of thousands of leaders. That's a lot of data!

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They found three main jobs of leaders:


A great vision is developed through exploration, boldness, and testing assumptions. During visioning, it's important to remain open and think “big picture.” It takes being adventurous and having a willingness to speak out. Shared visions are empowering and inspiring.


Your team members and stakeholders need to be aligned with the vision, and you need their buy-in before it can be effectively executed. This takes clear communication and dialogue, with a genuine receptiveness, as perspectives are exchanged. With their buy-in, built through this process, the vision can be made a reality.


This takes both momentum, structure, and feedback. While much of the work of execution is done with a managerial hat on, leaders drive the process by providing a plan and analysis. Leaders also address problems and offer praise.

Three simple steps, right?! This is simple to say, but much more complicated to live out!

What I’ve seen over and over in North Africa is that many leaders have great visions, but then they jump right to execution and miss out on the essential buy-in of their teams. Or conversely, they’ve been content with an old vision and are stuck in the maintenance mode of managing that vision.

Working with excellence through each aspect of leadership is difficult!

Our personalities and past experience with leadership make some aspects of leadership easier, while others are much more difficult. Learning and applying each step is crucial. Seeing where our natural strengths are and where we need to work a bit harder can make an incredible difference, not only for our experience in leadership, but for our team’s experience of making our vision a reality!

What pieces of leadership are easy for you? Which ones are more difficult? How will you move forward and become a better leader?