Characteristics of effective leadership

A new style of leadership is emerging as there is increased study of both appreciative and positive leadership (Lewis, 2016).  Transformation leadership, the most widely researched leadership theory, is a type of positive leadership with a focus on doing what is right and authentic to the individual (Beauchamp & Eys, 2014).  It is defined as having four specific leadership behaviors which include:

  • Idealized influence
  • Inspirational motivation
  • Intellectual stimulation
  • Individualized consideration (Beauchamp & Eys, 2014).

According to Beauchamp and Eys (2014), individuals who display idealized influence are authentic and stay true to their moral compass.  It is this authenticity that instills pride and respect in those they lead.  Inspirational motivation is characterized by optimism and enthusiasm for a shared vision.  This is also believed to contribute to team member’s self-efficacy (Bass & Riggio, 2006, as cited in Beauchamp & Eys, 2014).  When a leader utilizes the third component, intellectual stimulation, they are creating a motivational climate that allows their team members to feel comfortable making mistakes in pursuit of innovation and creativity (Bass & Riggio, 2006, as cited in Beauchamp & Eys, 2014).  It is also this type of environment that enhances performance and increased enjoyment among its members (Beauchamp & Eys, 2014).  Finally, when leaders take the time to get to know each of their athletes and promoting their development by advising, listening, and showing compassion, they are said to be using individualized consideration which is the fourth leadership behavior of transformational leaders (Beauchamp & Eys, 2014).

Just as an organization’s culture is a living process (Lewis, 2011), there is a shift from a focus on an individual leader to that of a “leadership system”, which encompasses both the acknowledgment of the complexities within an organization as well staying true to one’s core values and at the same time, supporting others (Lewis, 2016).

There are fourteen characteristics of this new leadership style:

  1. They work with and through relationships with others;
  2. They work to create and influence the social context of the organization;
  3. They encourage leadership as a distributed organizational phenomenon;
  4. They use their attention to focus organizational effort;
  5. They believe that asking questions is more important than giving answers;
  6. They see human imperfections as an asset;
  7. They work with what they’ve got;
  8. They have a moral compass;
  9. They understand the power of words;
  10. They use stories;
  11. They make sense, with others;
  12. They make effective use of micro-moments;
  13. They recognize the power of emotional states;
  14. They look after themselves (Lewis, 2016).

Several of these characteristics are critical to the implementation of effective goal setting within an organization.  For individuals to display goal-seeking behavior, they need to feel that their work environment is safe and rewarding (Lewis, 2011).  They also need to be positively reinforced for achieving their goals in a way that is specifically motivating to them.

Effective leaders will help those they work with to feel secure in their work environment by taking the time to know their team and the individual strengths each possess as well as what is motivating to them. When they are able to facilitate a team environment that utilizes each individual’s strengths and is supportive of each other, the quality of the relationships will deepen (Lewis, 2016).  Leaders who ask questions are also able to show their team that they are truly interested in input and understanding the nuances of the environment or situation.  They also aim to add value to others and make the best out of every situation.  It is these qualities that help an employee or team member to feel valued and safe, to offer suggestions or feedback, to innovate and to be rewarded for their efforts.



Beauchamp, M. R., & Eys, M. A. (2014). Group dynamics in exercise and sport psychology(2nd ed.). London: Routledge.

Lewis, S. (2016). Positive psychology and change: How leadership, collaboration, and appreciative inquiry create transformational results. Chichester, West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

By |2018-09-30T11:47:49+00:00July 2nd, 2015|Coaching, Corporate, Leadership Development|0 Comments

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