A recent research study investigated how behavioral traits and attitude characteristics affected leadership performance in the military. The study drew from data collected over five years from cadets at a U.S. military college and a military leader development course. The results found direct relationships between leadership effectiveness and two leadership competencies. It is important to note that the participants were junior officers and the list of traits and characteristics studied was not exhaustive. The amount of data collected, however, was extensive so the findings are credible. These two characteristics can serve all leaders and their organizations.  The characteristics common to effective leaders were:

Communicates.  The ability to clearly express ideas that ensure understanding, actively listen to others and practice effective communication techniques were demonstrated by the effective leaders. Interestingly, high-achieving officers were more meticulous and persistent in message articulation and more active in soliciting feedback or clarification of understanding from those they led.

Develops Others.  Those officers who encouraged and supported others to grow as individuals and in teams, prepared others for success, and made the organization more versatile were found to be significantly more effective in promoting unit performance than officers who made little or no effort to develop others.

These two competencies should be found in the skill set of every leader looking to make a difference in their organization and in the people they lead.


Teasley, R., Walker, W., Gabriel, T. J., & Rifenburg, M. (2021). Leadership Effectiveness in Military Settings. Organization Development Journal39(4), 47–62.