The 8 Universal Leadership Attributes

universal leadership attributes

Successful leadership consultant and best-selling author Tammy Holyfield, discusses the importance of learning HOW to identify the right person for a leadership role within your organization. Finding someone with these universal leadership attributes, is far more elusive than one may think. Our biases can get in the way, so it’s important that we keep our eyes and minds transfixed through an objective decision-making lens. As Tammy explains, “Looks can sometimes be deceiving”. Tammy provides us with the eight universal leadership attributes that are a strong sign of great potential, which she’s identified, during her many years of academic research and executive consulting.

The 8 Universal Leadership Attributes

by Tammy Holyfield

D eveloping leaders in an organization is vital to its success. However, identifying potential leaders is not always easy. Looks can sometimes be deceiving. We see someone who is doing well in their current position and we tap them for promotion. We can get caught up seeing someone who has great intelligence or personality and think they have what it takes to be a great leader. We have all heard someone with an authoritative presence deliver a bold vision that later turned out to be nothing but ego and hot air. Great leaders have more than the appearance of leadership; they know how to get results.

Here are eight universal leadership attributes for identifying the right professional:

  1. The ability to position or re-position – These characteristics surface in people who can find ideas for business that meet a need. It is a real asset to find a person with the ability to position or re-position. This kind of leader enables an organization to solve a problem or answer a question while being supported by the available market and sustaining a profit.
  2. The ability to forecast future market trends – These people can detect patterns and see things others cannnot. They can think a process through and see possibilities to capitalize on the position. This is a skill that can put an organization on the offense in a complex and ever changing world.
  3. Aligning People – Identifying and promoting people with strong social skills, who can align the social system of an organization will result in increased effectiveness. Imagine having the right people in the optimal positions utilizing their gifts, talents, and skills. Couple that with people who are informed, equipped, and have the right behaviors, and you have the making of engaged employees. Informed and engaged employees are able to make better decisions faster. That is the key to achieving greater results – alignment.
  4. Evaluating Performance and making necessary changes – Great leaders not only align social systems but they calibrate people based on their actions, decisions, and behaviors, and match them to the non-negotiable skills of the specific job. They can also evaluate performance based on the overall corporate objectives. Even better is a leader who can see things need to change, and take the action to change them.
  5. Insisting on Unity – Highly competent people can be a challenge to direct with their ability to be independent thinkers. Their authority figures must have the power to coordinate and shape the team in unity for a common purpose while respecting diversity and individuality. Great leaders insist on unity without uniformity.
  6. Setting Long and Short Term Goals – Great leaders have the ability to cast vision and the skills to translate global vision into practical action.
  7. Delineate Laser Sharp Focus of Priorities – Often there are so many great ideas and initiatives to launch, it is hard to know which one will net the greatest results. Great leaders can define and chart the course or path by aligning resources, actions, and energy to accomplish the desired outcome.
  8. Dealing with External Forces beyond the market – Anticipating and responding to societal pressures you do not control, but that directly affect your business. A prime example of this is the change in the fast food industry. People today are demanding healthier choices when eating out, and as a result, that external force has required many fast food chains to change their menus. Great leaders anticipate, address, and respond.

There are many behavioral traits that make people shine like a star. When you are looking for future leaders, the most important trait is personal integrity. Without a doubt, intelligence, personality, and the ability to communicate are important. People will follow ability and skill for a while but lasting leadership is built on trust and character. It has been said, “your ability can never take you where your character cannot keep you”.


Message from the author: For the guidance, tools and resources to help you identify and develop successful leaders, visit our website Holyfield International online. In addition to our experience, we leverage top tier behavioral and cognitive assessments like DISC, Motivators, and Emotional Intelligence to provide organizations with the scientific insights for accurately identifying the degrees of individual leadership strength and struggle. We are also available to conduct team building or leadership development workshops with your collective staff. Please contact Holyfield International for more information.


identify potential leaders
Follow Tammy Holyfield

Tammy Holyfield is the founder of Holyfield International, a business and personal development company. Holyfield International works with business professionals, entrepreneurs, CEO’s, managers, leaders, and individuals from all walks of life, teaching skills that are proven, practical and get results.

She is also a business and personal coach, professional speaker, author, and consultant. For information on organizational solutions or to reach her visit www.holyfieldinternational.com or call 619-431-1345. Email your questions to Tammy directly: tamholy@gmail.com

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