Top 4 Traits of Modern Leaders

Top 4 Traits of Modern Leaders

Leadership can feel like a moving target. Managing across generational styles (Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z) can be confusing. Add to that the complexity of information, speed, and priorities, and you may quickly feel overwhelmed. How do you lead in such an environment?

What Is A Leader?

My favorite definition of a leader is modified from Peter Drucker’s thinking, “A leader is someone who has followers.” I would add “without the use of authority.” The question is: How do you learn ways to get others to follow your lead, especially those who don’t report to you or who are not willing to follow?

First, you must look inward at yourself and your personality style. You may not identify as a “born leader,” but fear not! You can strengthen your leadership skills, regardless of your personality style. DISC Theory is a leadership tool to help you understand your strengths and areas for growth.

By identifying your primary traits using the four DISC personality styles (Dominant, Influential, Steady, Compliant), you can leverage your strengths, develop your secondary leadership factors and create strategies to partner with others by flexing your style. Here are the top four traits in which today’s leaders need to adopt from each personality style to thrive:

1. Have a bias for action

The pace in many organizations these days is focused on “agile,” “just in time” and “need it yesterday.” These leaders have a need to make decisions quickly.

  • Relevant primary style: Dominant
  • Natural strengths: results-oriented, decisive, big-picture thinkers
  • Areas for growth: active listening, relationships, building consensus
  • Partner with: Influential, Compliant
  • Leadership growth summary: You are well-suited for leading during a crisis, but don’t make everything an emergency. Curb your impulsive urgency, take a step back to look at the big picture, and engage team members to take on some of your vision. Pick one project you can let someone else lead, including meetings, email strings, and troubleshooting.

2. Develop personal relationships

Most people want authentic interactions at work. They respond to encouragement and enthusiasm. Building rapport over time makes it easier to convince someone to go along with your plan.

  • Relevant primary style: Influential
  • Natural strengths: enthusiastic, optimistic, persuasive
  • Areas for growth: dealing with details, listening, impulsive decisions
  • Partner with: Compliant, Steady
  • Leadership growth summary: Motivation is often cited as critical to success, and you have the gift of inspiring others with your words. Instead of being seen as “all sizzle and no steak,” ask a team member to help you with working through the details. People naturally want to spend time with you, so learn to appreciate their ideas and goals as you work together.

3. Follow a routine

Successful people point to their routines as key to their leadership. The stability of a routine makes it possible for them to remain calm during times of crisis or conflict, and listen well to others.

  • Relevant primary style: Steady
  • Natural strengths: even-tempered, patient, dependable
  • Areas for growth: open to change, assertiveness, work pace
  • Partner with: Influential, Dominant
  • Leadership growth summary: You bring a positive steadiness to the team others depend upon. As you go out of your way to help others, you sometimes ignore your own needs. Use writing or journaling to practice asking for more of what you want (then actually ask!). Balance out your “give and take” to be a more effective leader.

4. Consider the details

We all want quick action, but not poorly executed. Leaders who dig into the details can enhance decision-making and deliver high-quality results.

  • Relevant primary style: Compliant
  • Natural strengths: accurate, analytical, organized
  • Areas for growth: be open to others’ ideas, decision speed, work relationships
  • Partner with: Dominant, Influential
  • Leadership growth summary: Your planning and research skills are legendary, delivering solid results. Sometimes, speed is more important than accuracy (think agile project management). Embrace the phrase “good enough” when your teammates seem frustrated with your quest for perfection. With your high standards, the results will most likely still exceed what is needed.

Are you hesitant to use tools such as DISC? I get it. It’s not easy to take a realistic look at yourself. However, you’re reading this because you want to be a better leader, right? I have personally used the DISC personality system (I am a high (D) Dominant style) and by understanding behavioral tendencies of my leadership style, my eyes were opened to the ability to accomplish goals better when mentoring others of varying styles. I also noticed quite a few more people following me than with my previous approach. If you’re looking to develop your leadership skills, start with the PeopleKeys DISC Leadership report to give you and your team a language and framework to discuss and build better work outcomes.

Picture of Michael Dattilio

Written by: Michael Dattilio

Michael Dattilio enjoys focusing on the interactions of parts in any system, be it a team, a process, or an organization to help create simple solutions to sometimes complex challenges. Personality Style: D