5 Essential Traits of Successful Leaders

by Michelle Burke

In today’s workforce, it is no secret that inequality is still a goal, not a reality. Even though women make up half of the working population, men continue to be promoted to positions of influence over their female counterparts. However, there are several traits that allow a woman to successfully lead, regardless of the circumstance.


Successful leaders must be able to influence those that are around them. While many people think the loudest follower is the one that becomes the most effective leader, true influence is not found in the volume of a person’s argument. Rather, it tends to be a person’s sense of self-confidence that allows others to rest assured in their ability to lead. As women, we are often reluctant to seem too pushy or brash. Yet, it is in those moments that we assert our sense of self that we tend to wield the most influence.


In broad generalities, women tend to be bridge builders. Rather than leading by bulldozing their way through a process, they exercise their ability to collaborate and communicate with all members of the organization. This tendency toward consensus building allows those we lead to have a sense of ownership in the processes in which they are being led. It also tends to allow those we lead to know the “why” of our organizations, fostering greater trust in the decisions we make.


Women have the ability to take ownership of their team’s actions in a way that eludes most men. Michelle Burke, the founder of bossibly, has seen this sense of ownership consistently lead to better outcomes as she has coached young professionals in leadership skills. It is that sense of ownership, not only of the final product the team is producing but also of the relationships that form during the process, that force women in leadership roles to address conflicts within a team before they affect performance. (Want to hear more from Michelle? Click here to register for our webinar!)

Michelle Burke Just-A-Minute Tip: Taking Ownership For Your Team

Constructive Criticism

Recognizing a person for a job well done is easy. Helping a person grow when their performance has not reached their full potential is a skill. Fortunately, leaders can develop this trait over time and with practice. Looking at a person’s sub-par performance through the lens of learning opens up a world of possibilities, not only for the person being evaluated but also for the person doing the evaluating. Suddenly, “failures” become training opportunities. Missteps become leadership moments. The possibility of mentorship opens up. When constructive criticism is effectively delivered, both the giver and receiver leave the evaluation feeling empowered to change a behavior, learn a skill and grow as a worker, instead of feeling defeated and deflated.


Women tend to be keenly self-aware in every position, but never more acutely than in positions of influence. For some, this self-awareness makes them reluctant to lead, as they feel inadequate and ill-prepared, yet this trait is also what makes women incredible leaders. Rather than relying on their own intellect, their own ego or their own ability to win the day, women will reach out to those who are more experienced in and better equipped to perform a task. As they do so, those who are tapped for their talents, skills or abilities are able to flourish on the teams women create because they are performing at a high level in an area in which they excel. The difference between being debilitated by a sense of self-awareness and being empowered by it? A willingness to act in spite of any feelings of inadequacy.

Want to learn about women in leadership and your personal strengths? Join Michelle Burke, founder of bossiby as she discusses the leadership gap between men and women and traits that make women exceptional leaders. Register now to secure your spot in the webinar.

About the author:

Michelle Burke is the Founder and Maven Maker of bossibly; she aides business owners and young professional women alike by coaching them to become influential leaders. Using a unique system, she combines character strengths and core values to help them create a culture of engagement, which fosters predictable results and accountability.

Michelle is the chapter president of IAW Orlando and is a key influencer of The Leadership Lab by IAW.

Accessibility Toolbar