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Lesson 1: Attributes of Effective Leaders

Lesson 1: Attributes of Effective Leaders

Author: Michael Schulte
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Developing Effective Teams

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Welcome to Leadership Mastery - Attributes of Effective Leaders

The New Leader

Becoming a leader is challenging. Many times, the qualities that got you to this position aren't enough to make you an effective leader. And, if you're leading a team where you were once a team member, you can face more challenges. Select the images to read the story of a new leader transitioning from a team member role.

File:4082-PMT1L1newleader1.png You've accepted the promotion to supervisor of the regional call center. You know exactly what the people who report to you do, because you were one of them until a month ago. But now you're the boss. You have lots of great ideas for the call center and are looking forward to implementing them.

After being in your position for a few weeks, you decide to implement improvements to scripts and job aids that your team uses. You know this has been a pain point for many people on the team for quite awhile. You anticipate that everyone will be excited about the new tools.

When you discuss the changes in a staff meeting, you're surprised at Paul's reaction. You know that he agrees that this is an important update for the team. In the meeting, however, he seems totally disengaged and makes comments under his breath like, "It doesn't take long for people in management to forget what it's like on the floor, does it?" File:4084-PMT1L1newleader3.png

You don't know how to respond to Paul. You always had a good working relationship with him before you became a supervisor. The two of you talked many times about the team's needs and changes you'd make if you had the chance. Now, Paul seems to be ridiculing your suggestions and not taking you seriously. How do you change your relationship from peer-to-peer to leader-follower?


Personal Leadership Model

As shown below, effective leadership is defined today as more collaborative, more visionary, more innovative, and more values-based than in previous eras. This is due to many factors such as the development of a global work environment. Changes in the workforce, like the entry of the Millennial generation, have also influenced changes in leadership. The Personal Leadership Model shown here indicates four areas to focus on in your journey to becoming a more effective leader.


Self-awareness is a foundational skill for effective leaders. At its basic level, it includes knowledge of your own strengths and weaknesses. At a higher level, it includes awareness of your values, your preconceptions or assumptions, and the things that motivate you. Developing self-awareness is an ongoing process. It helps you focus your energies and build trust with others. How do you think you could go about building self-awareness? File:4086-PMT1L1model1.svg

Courage and Ethics

Awareness of your values and ethics provides a basis for your actions as a leader. It allows you to build a picture of what you want for your team and for yourself. Leading from your values also means that you must have the courage to make difficult decisions and face conflict. Courageous leaders encourage open, honest dialogue and must be willing to let go of their preconceptions when needed. What are other ways in which leaders might act courageously?



Skills Development

Skills development gets at how leaders do their work. There are behaviors, processes, and techniques that help leaders to get the most out of their teams. They include things like delegation, coaching, reporting, and managing processes. Skills development is an ongoing process as leaders strive for continuous improvement. What leadership skills do you feel are your strengths? Where do you need development?

Balancing Individual and Organizational Needs

Creating balance is a critical component of effective leadership. All leaders are accountable for driving toward organizational strategies. They also must meet established productivity and revenue goals. On the other hand, managing a productive team means paying attention to individual needs as well—both yours and your team members'. An effective leader knows how to prioritize and balance competing needs while remaining accountable to both the organization and its individuals. What are ways you promote work/life balance with yourself and your team?

Personal Leadership Model

Case Study

Now that you've learned a little about the attributes of effective leaders, let's go back to the story that started this lesson. You have been promoted to supervising a regional call center where you were previously a team member. When you presented ideas for improvement in a team meeting, Paul responded negatively. Based on what you know about effective leadership, how would you respond?


Ignore Paul's comments. He just needs time to adjust to your new role

While it's true that Paul may need time to adjust to the change in your position, ignoring his comments may not be the best choice. Rather than resolving his feelings, they may begin to fester. His negative attitude may also start affecting other team members. You're obviously trying to balance Paul's needs with the team's, but it may be better to do it more directly. Working through the situation with him will allow you to come to a mutually agreeable solution while ensuring that he feels heard in the process

Call Paul into your office and tell him that you are running the team now and he must follow your decisions

You're standing up for yourself, and displaying courage by doing so, but you're also appearing to be inflexible. This may further alienate Paul. Effective leaders are able to take other viewpoints into consideration. While the ultimate decision is yours, incorporating feedback from others allows you to reach better solutions.

Call Paul into your office and ask him what is wrong with your plan and what he would do differently.

This is a great choice! This response hits all the components of the Leadership Mastery Model. You're treating Paul respectfully and keeping the lines of communication open. Allowing Paul to express his ideas does not mean you have to accept all of them but, by listening, you're validating his viewpoint. And, by exploring options together, you may well come up with a better solution.

Call Paul into your office and ask him why he is being so negative when you have always had a good working relationship before.

Allowing Paul to express his feelings may be helpful if it leads to a conversation about how you can best work together in your new roles. While you should respect his feelings, it's important to acknowledge that your change in status is a fact. Establishing a new working relationship is the priority now. The ability to keep the conversation focused is a leadership skill that will be necessary to make this a productive conversation.

Leadership Action Plan

No single leader is like any other single leader. No group of leaders looks or acts precisely like any other group of leaders. This course invites you to find your own path to leadership based on your personality, talents, and experience. It provides opportunities for you to strengthen your core abilities, and invites you to expand your definition of leadership. Topics include elements of effective leadership, leadership actions, skills required for good leadership, being a good leader, and building leadership muscle.