Underrated Leadership Traits

Underrated Leadership Traits

Honesty may be viewed as keeping up with the promises and delivering on time. There may be times when you overpromise or oversell, but failing to meet promises only impacts your credibility.

If one must really define what it takes to be an effective leader, the list of key competencies is exhaustive. Most leaders share certain skills and traits like strategic thinking, ability to manage change, ability to motivate, business acumen etc. that are essential to propel a team or an organisation to success. However, beyond these ‘stereotypical’ attributes, there are some additional leadership skills that often remain unsung and underrated but are equally important for people to emerge as effective leaders. A few of them have been cited below.




It has been more than two millennia now that Socrates argued that ‘Humility is the greatest of all virtues’. But, humility is not really the first thing that comes to one’s mind when one thinks of leadership, because, most often, we associate qualities like charisma, vision, influence, etc. when we talk of great leadership. However, there have been ample studies in the recent past that underline the importance of humility as a leadership trait. For example, a study by the Journal of Management revealed that humility in CEOs results in higher-performing teams with increased collaboration and coordination. Humble leaders are like mentors who are solution-oriented and open-minded and are not afraid to relinquish control. For some, humility comes naturally but what about the others? Can humility be learnt? Yes, it can and must be learned. Here are some quick tips:


• Accept mistakes: It is always a good idea to shoulder responsibility when things go awry


• Be open to feedback: Constructive feedback should always be welcomed


• Appreciate others: Thank people for their contributions




Simon Sinek, in his book, ‘Leaders Eat Last’ argues that the true price of leadership is the willingness to place the needs of others above your own. Selfless leadership is all about empowering your people and setting them up for triumph because the success of an organisation depends upon how motivated and engaged are its people. A selfless leader inspires trust and confidence which makes people believe that they are cared for and supported at work. This, besides leading to higher productivity also ensures loyalty, thereby, leading to lower turnover costs. The significance of selflessness, as a leadership trait, can also be gauged from a 2018 survey by career website Monster where a whopping 76% of respondents looking out for a job blamed their managers for being power-hungry and micromanagers. Here are a few simple ways to demonstrate selfless behaviour:


• Share credit: A leader is as good as their team. Put the spotlight on others when things go well


• Give autonomy: Trust your people and encourage their growth by empowering them


• Seek suggestions: Always ask the team for their opinion in any situation before making the right decision




Honesty is the core of leadership and is also the foundation on which leaders build relationships within and outside their teams. It is an essential trait to have as people look up to their leaders and emulate their behaviours. Hence, leaders leading by example in this area play a crucial role in shaping up the work culture. Honesty may be defined as being transparent, open and willing to communicate, even things that can be uncomfortable to express. Leaders who do not conceal information and keep everyone abreast with what’s going on within the organisation are appreciated.


Honesty may also be viewed as keeping up with the promises and delivering on time. There may be times when you overpromise or oversell, but failing to meet promises only impacts your credibility. Honesty is also about taking accountability. As a leader, it is important to demonstrate that you hold yourself as much accountable as you do to those under you. One of the important outcomes of honesty is that it helps build trust and strong connections in the team that goes a long way in building an engaged and productive team.




When Indra Nooyi took over as the CEO of PepsiCo, she could see the changing trends and the underlying shift of millennials to healthier foods. Hence, she introduced ‘Performance with Purpose’ as a strategy that aimed at expanding the portfolio of the company to more nutritious products. Nooyi was bold enough to take this risk and rebranded the beverage company like no one had thought. As a result, PepsiCo’s stock has grown 70% over the years compared to its archrivals.


Courage is another trait that differentiates great leaders from excellent managers. Courageous leaders are not wary of taking risks and they take decisions that have the potential to bring revolutionary change. They also inspire people in their teams by setting up an example and foster a culture of innovation in the organisation. Courage should not be confused with hasty decisions taken without any judgement. Great leaders take spirited but calculated risks and demonstrate bold but reasoned judgement. Courageous leadership also comes to the forefront when there is a battle between what is right and necessary versus what is popular. Great leaders face their fears and stand for the ethical standards and the greater good of the business.


Every leader is different and has a distinct leadership style when it comes to managing and leading people. However, there are certain underlying skills which every leader should exhibit as they not only offer a competitive advantage, but also help them surmount obstacles and thrive during challenging times.



Rohit Hasteer is the Group CHRO for, Prop and Makaan. com. He has an experience of more than 20 years in the domain on Compensation Benefits, Talent Acquisition and Talent Management, Training & Development. He has worked with companies like CITIBANK, Make My Trip, Aviva Life Insurance and UT WorldWide. He takes keen interest in building Organisation culture and People Development. He is an MBA from IMT, Ghaziabad.


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