Character: Four Leadership Traits for Long-Term Success

Character traits for leadership are more than a leader’s personality.  These traits are a leaders’ moral, emotional, and mental makeup.  What character traits empower leaders to excel?

Leadership Character Traits

They are many character traits that make leaders successful.  Here are four of those traits.

  1. Accountability
  2. Authenticity
  3. Commitment
  4. Humility


President Harry Truman said, “The buck stops here.”

Leaders hold themselves accountable.  I was a lieutenant in the United States Navy.  My commanding officer (that is, my captain) held me accountable for my actions.  Additionally, the Navy also held my captain accountable.

Successful leaders accept accountability for the failure of their organization.  These leaders can’t do everyone’s job.  However, they can build and train an organization for success.

At the end of the football season, the fans may blame the quarterback for the failures of a team.  However, a head coach with the authority to lead is accountable for the team’s results.

That coach can try to place the blame on the players.  But the coach is the person who hired and trained those players.  The coach is the one who is accountable.  Therefore, successful leaders must hold themselves accountable.


By playing politics, you may be able to gain support from people above you and around the office.  However, if you focus on politics and not performance, you will fail in the long-term.

Furthermore, authenticity is the bedrock of innovation.  When you focus on pleasing people instead of better ways to help you company, your creativity dies.

“If you copy other people, you are an impersonator. When you remake the work of other people in ways that it becomes your own work, you are authentic. When authenticity leads you to break the rules and change the world, you are a rebel. With authenticity, rebels find greatness.


The failed expectations of others undermine leadership as much as any other event.

Failing to fulfill your commitments weakens the trust that people have in you.

To be more effective, do these things in honoring your commitments.

  • Act Now.
  • Exceed Expectations.
  • Arrival early.
  • Work through the finish of the day.
  • Be honest about your abilities.
  • Don’t over commit in the first place.


The best book I have read on humility as a leadership trait is Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t by Jim Collins.

If you personalize to your own experience, how much do you enjoy having other people take part or all of the credit for your efforts?  The people you lead are no different.

Great leaders have the humility to give credit to the team. To quote President Reagan, “There is no limit to the amount of good you can do if you don’t care who gets the credit.”