Given the importance of leadership, many organizations substantially invest in developing their current and future leaders.  They have thoughtful and effective leadership development programs that combine training, practice, and cultivation–all intended to professionally grow and nurture leaders. Like many organizations, the Unites States Department of Defense (DoD) places a premium on such programs as the country’s defense heavily dependents on the quality of its’ leadership.  Research conducted at the DoD has identifed the traits most important for a leader’s success (Tremaine, 2016). A total of 11 traits were identified as significant factors contributing to a leader’s success, but their importance varied by the leader’s actual role and demographic factors.  There were, however, 3 leadership traits that emerged as mattering the most, regardless of a leader’s role or demographics.  The traits are, in order of importance:

  1. Lead by Example. Inspire people around you to push themselves to greatness by setting high standards for performance and devote significant effort to achieve those standards. Do this by setting high standards for your own performance and make considerable effort to accomplish achieving greatness. Never ask of another what you are not willing to do yourself.
  2. Effective Communicator. Effectively communicate vision and purpose clearly, concisely, enthusiastically and memorably.  Be a superb listener.
  3. Develops Self & Others. Seek continual improvement in your own performance, and share your passion by selflessly helping subordinates to learn and grow in meaningful and purposeful ways.


Tremaine, R. L. (2016). THE HIGH FLYING Leadership Qualities: What Matters the

Most? Defense Acquisition Research Journal: A Publication of the Defense Acquisition    University23(2), 122–150.