What is Leadership: 5 Core Traits

Leadership, Vision, EI, Responsibility, Innovation“What is leadership?” is a wonderfully simple question that is very complex to answer. There are thousands of leadership books, papers, blogs and everyone has an opinion. We here at Lightbox Leadership also have some thoughts on leadership. We have distilled 5 core traits from our years in leadership and the prevailing wisdom from the greatest leaders and thinkers.

Why only 5 core traits? The logic behind this minimal number is twofold. One, leadership does not have to be that complicated. Two, these 5 are the critical/core components of every leader. Depending on your role, profession or place in life there could be many more specific to what you do. Without further ado…

5 Core Leadership Traits
  1. Responsibility
  2. Emotional Intelligence
  3. Vision
  4. Enabling Others
  5. Innovation

The first core trait is leaders need to be responsible and have responsibility. They must own up to themselves and to their actions. They must uphold their sense of character and values and be able to look into the mirror and take full accountability. No victim mentality. Integrity and honesty are keys towards being responsible and it all starts with you.

Emotional Intelligence 

Developing and embodying emotional intelligence (EI) is the second core trait of leadership. The ability to be keenly self-aware of your emotions and to regulate how they affect your thinking is critical to decision making. Empathy is another component of EI and combined with self-awareness gives you the extraordinary ability to interact and produce effective outcomes amongst disparate individuals.


The ability to create a vision and enlist others in a shared vision is the third core trait of leadership. Creating a shared vision that is forward looking which inspires others to act with courage and purpose is vital to moving an organization towards the future through whatever changes lie ahead. This vision must come from your own internal motivation and yet be flexible enough to allow others to jump on board and create a truly shared experience. It must be powerful enough to create goals, take action and produce lasting results.

Enable Others

Become adept at enabling others because you cannot do it alone is the fourth core trait. Creating an environment where you enable those around you to succeed to their highest levels will improve performance and outcomes. Foster collaboration amongst teams, departments and individuals to unleash the potential of the whole. Enabling others is also about pristinely managing relationships and finding common ground towards mutually beneficial outcomes.


Lastly, but equally as important, the fifth core trait of leadership is innovation. Innovate for excellence to drive the organization towards its greatest heights. You must be able to lead through diffcultites and adapt to the only true constant (change). If you are not setting great goals and challenging those to think strategically, yet creatively you and the organization will be left behind. Innovation is a not a buzzword but a core leadership trait that every leader needs to value in order to keep his organization on the leading edge.

Leadership can be defined many ways

In summation, leadership can be defined many ways, but for me it’s about embodying responsibility and emotional intelligence, while creating a shared vision. It is honing the ability to enable others to greatness. It’s having the capacity to innovate, grow through change and deliver lasting results.

So “what is leadership” to you?

Derek Lauber, ACC

image courtesy: Derek Lauber


Related Articles

Define Your Personal Leadership Brand in Five Steps by Norm Smallwood
How to Create a Culture of Innovation in Your Organization by Robert Tanner
Responsibility, Accountability and Ownership: Looking in the Mirror by Derek Lauber
Part I: A Primer on Emotional Intelligence by Derek Lauber

Link to original post

Leave a Reply