Five traits of a memorable leader

#TBT! Re-posting one of our favorite leadership articles, from the always-on-point Tara Jaye Frank.


The internet is home to thousands of articles on leadership. With one simple search, you can find endless insight on the qualities of a good leader, how good leaders become great, avoiding the pitfalls of leadership, leading through change…the list goes on. Even I get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of content online, and leadership is one of my favorite topics.

With all the intelligence available, I’ve been wondering…what makes leadership not only stand out, but live on?

If I consult my heart on the matter, which I often do, I can boil it down to a simple concept: I want my leadership contributions to keep working long after I stop working. If this resonates with you, check out these five traits of a memorable leader.

1. Purpose

The leaders who stick with me have a clear and passionate purpose. They desire to leave people and situations better than they found them. Every day, while crunching numbers or setting strategies, they believe they’re contributing to something more meaningful than the day’s task list. Hard work may happen in the valley, but true change takes place on higher ground.

2. Humanity

Call it authenticity, empathy, or compassion. The most memorable leaders I’ve had the pleasure to know are real. They’re genuine. They not only think their way through business challenges; they feel their way through them. These leaders are consistent, create a safe environment in which to take risks, and aren’t afraid to lean into their beliefs and values when warranted. Memorable leaders remember that we are human beings, not humans doing.

3. Agility

Ever work with someone who set a direction and refused to change it, even when every signal suggested he or she should? You can call it persistence or focus or discipline. But you can’t call it agile. Agile leaders are in tune with their surroundings. They are hyper-conscious of the benefits and risks associated with their decisions and make adjustments as new information becomes available. They’re not afraid to be labeled “wishy-washy”—when the situation changes, so do they. Quickly.

4. Courage

The leaders I’ll never forget say the hard stuff. They ask tough questions, make tough decisions, and tenaciously contend with tough issues without fear of retribution. They encourage honesty and model it for others. Memorable leaders know the truth is always best—even if others aren’t quite ready to hear it. Great leaders go where others won’t, and effectively take people along with them. (Side note: courage is not the same as belligerence. I’m just saying.)

5. Confidence

Memorable leaders believe in themselves. They know the value they bring to the party and represent it with equal parts passion and poise. They believe in their ability to change things for the better, and flawlessly collaborate with others in the name of progress. Their confidence makes YOU confident—in their leadership, yes, but also in your own. Associate with people who believe in themselves and in your inherent value. It’s contagious. In a good way.

There are many ways to be a great leader, but becoming a memorable one requires tapping into your very core—knowing not only what you’re working on, but also who you are, and what you’re working FOR. Memorable leaders work from a deep root. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to find yours.

Hope you enjoyed the read. If so, please share!

This post first appeared on LinkedIn Pulse.

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Tara Jaye Frank

Tara Jaye Frank is VP of Multicultural Strategy for Hallmark Cards, Inc. and the author of Say Yes: A Woman’s Guide to Advancing Her Professional Purpose, written to help women from all cultural backgrounds chart a career course they can believe in and achieve. Follow her on Twitter @tarajfrank and Facebook at Facebook/tarajayefrank, or visit her at tarajayefrank.com.

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