What makes an effective leader?

Leadership is a well discussed topic in the world of business, one I am particularly interested in; effective leadership is essential to a successful business. There are various different theories surrounding this topic; the Trait theory, Behavioural theory and the Contingency theory. The Trait theory in my eyes seems the most appropriate measure of effective leadership.

Through carrying out some research, I have identified what I believe to be the 3 most essential qualities of an effective leader:

1. A leader that is driven by an inspiring vision of success. A compelling vision has power. It inspires, clarifies and focuses the work of individuals and preferably entire organizations for a lengthy span of time. Steve Jobs had a vision, and look where he has left Apple today; the 2nd largest brand in the world (Interbrand 2012), with a Market Capitalisation of $493.19 billion (20th December).

2. A leader that has excellent communication skills. A leader must be able to communicate with everyone within an organisation in order to get their vision across. Communication is a fundamental skill that anyone in business needs to possess, but a leader must have it in abundance. Communication breakdown is the downfall of many businesses.

3. A leader that exercises superior judgement. This is the key. A leader must be able to make a decision and stick to it, taking into account the consequences of such a decision. Barack Obama often takes time over his decisions, whereas Angela Merkel (The German Chancellor of the Exchequer) is snappy. Both leaders are successful and well-respected, so a decision can be judged effectively within any space of time.

Think about the effective business leaders of today; Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Virginia Rommetty, Sheryl Sandburg and so on. They all possess these 3 attributes and it is why they have got to where they are today.