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[Infographic] Essential Business Leadership Characteristics

Managers and executives shoulder an impressive amount of responsibility for their company, which is matched by their impressive paychecks. Top executives make upward of $100,400 a year. (1) Not all leaders are equal in value, though. To lead a company in a profitable direction, executives must master some essential business leadership competencies.

Global leaders agree these six characteristics are the most important: (2)

  • Strong ethics and safety (67 percent)
  • Empowers self-organizing (59 percent)
  • Enhanced communication (56 percent)
  • Learns efficiently (52 percent)
  • Nurtures growth (43 percent)
  • Encourages connection and belonging (42 percent)

Strong Ethics and Safety.

The safety of employees should be the first priority of a good leader, followed closely by conducting business in an ethical manner. The goal is to make employees feel safe and to create a trusting environment. Fairness and an open-door policy are key to demonstrating strong ethics as a leader.

  • Neuroscience confirms a relaxed environment is key to social engagement and high levels of productivity. (2)

Empowers Self-Organizing.

Successful executives know they can’t do every aspect of a job themselves, so they provide clear goals and empower their teams to take the lead. To promote self-organization and keep everyone on the same page, encourage the use of collaboration tools like Google Drive, Trello, Basecamp and Slack.

  • Well-organized and well-managed teams are 50 percent more productive and 56 percent more profitable than poorly managed teams. (3)

Enhanced Communication.

Successful leaders learn employees’ individual communication styles and use tools to complement those styles. They avoid “I” and “you” statements and instead use “we” statements, and though the message should be clear and definitive, it should always be written positively.

Design: “Your idea won’t work.” (put an X over this statement). “That’s a great starting point. We should find similar avenues to explore.” (put a thumb’s up next to this statement).

Learns Efficiently.

There are currently five different generations in the workforce, and all are accustomed to different learning styles. (4) Leaders must become superior in providing employees with learning tools and resources that match their learning styles.

  • 76 percent of workers prefer to complete tasks out of the office. (5)
  • Creating a mentorship program can increase productivity and learning-efficiency. (6)
  • Cross-training workers helps managers align employees with the most appropriate roles.

Nurtures Growth.

Leaders see the potential in each employee and align workers with tasks that will play to their skills. Those in management positions should employ four tactics to help employees reach their full potential:

  • Training
  • Connecting
  • Challenging
  • Coaching

Encourages Connection and Belonging.

Enhanced collaboration is at the core of effective leadership. Creating unity among workers ensures everyone enjoys coming to work, and employee happiness is a vital KPI that should be measured regularly.

  • Connecting with workers and creating a happy workforce increases productivity as much as 12 percent. (7)

Age Doesn’t Matter.

Though average age of an incoming CEO is 50-years-old, age isn’t a factor. (8) Anyone can be a great leader. There are plenty of young executives out there who are paving the way for young adults with leadership aspirations.

Five CEOs under 30: (9)

  • Dylan Jacob: Founder, BrüMate (23-years-old)
  • Rohan Pavuluri: Co-founder, Upsolve (22-years-old)
  • Vitalik Buterin: Co-founder, Ethereum (24-years-old)
  • George Matus: Founder, Teal Drones (20-years-old)
  • Liam Berryman: Co-founder, Nelumbo (22-years-old) (10)

Supporting the weight of a company’s future is a job reserved for the best. Become one of the elite in your field with an online MBA from Fairleigh Dickinson University. (11)

View Essential Business Leadership Characteristics infographic from Fairleigh Dickinson University



Young Upstarts is a business and technology blog that champions new ideas, innovation and entrepreneurship. It focuses on highlighting young people and small businesses, celebrating their vision and role in changing the world with their ideas, products and services.

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