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Corporate Leadership Skills: 10 Character Traits of High-Influence Leaders

By Perry Holley | May 11, 2022
Corporate Leadership Skills: 10 Character Traits of High-Influence Leaders

Here at Maxwell Leadership, we believe that leadership is influence—nothing more, nothing less. If you don’t have positive influence on others, your effectiveness as a leader and your leadership development will be diminished.

So, what is influence, and how do you develop it?

The dictionary definition of influence is the capacity or power of a person to be a compelling force on the actions, behavior, and opinions of others. When you have influence, you can lead powerful, positive change in others. If you want to grow your influence with others and increase your leadership effectiveness, you must be intentional with your actions and behaviors. So let’s explore what some key character traits of influential people (leaders) really look like.


Author and teacher Brian Tracy has written about the character traits found in high-influence leaders. As you look at these traits, ask yourself these two questions: 1. Are these traits true about me? 2. What action(s) do I need to take to instill these traits in myself?

1. Goal-Oriented: Influential people are goal-oriented. People are not positively influenced by people who don’t know what they are trying to accomplish. People of influence decide precisely what they want to achieve and they record that in some way (writing it down, sharing it with their teams, etc.)

2. Full of Integrity: Integrity is probably the most essential quality for success in both professional develoment and personal growth. 85% of success in life is based on our relationships, and our relationships are based on trust. If the trust is not there, the relationship is not there. Integrity is everything.

3. Optimistic: Researchers found that one common quality of influential and successful people was extreme optimism. Your attitude, positive or negative, is evident to others even before you open your mouth. No one is positively influenced by someone with a bad attitude.

4. Sincere: Influential people always tell the truth, but they are also polite. People are positively influenced by authenticity and communication with no pretense of fakeness. Sincere people exhibit genuine warmth and trust.

5. Well-Informed: Influential people know what’s going on overall and in their specific professions or areas of expertise. You will not be positively influenced by someone who appears ignorant about the current conditions and what is happening around them.

6. Well-Prepared: The most successful people in every field are thoroughly prepared. You will erode a lot of influence if you appear unprepared in front of others.

7. Loves People: Love in this sense is intended as an action. Some behaviors of love that develop influence are patience, kindness, humility, and selflessness. Brian Tracy suggests that one way to demonstrate love to others is to listen, listen, and listen until they stop talking. Then ask, “What did you do next?”

8. Communicates Effectively: Whether one-on-one, in a group meeting, or addressing the entire company, your influence is highly affected by how you communicate with others.

9. Well-Mannered. Being well-mannered opens doors for you. Being well-mannered exhibits an others-orientation. You make others feel valued by how you treat them.

10. Displays Perseverance. In the face of difficulty, perseverance and persistence are essential qualities for success. You will have problems in life—the only question is how will you respond to them?

According to Daniel Goleman, your EQ—your emotional intelligence and ability to persuade, influence, negotiate, communicate, and move people to do (or not do) things—accounts for 85% of your success. Your IQ is about your competence in the role and is the other 15%. Once you exhibit competence, you need to be able to move people through influence by displaying these traits to achieve your potential as a leader and lead powerful, positive change in others and your organization.

About Perry Holley

Perry Holley is a coach and facilitator with Maxwell Leadership, as well as a published author. He has a passion for developing others and seeing people grow into the leaders they were intended to become.

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