Five Characteristics of Effective Leaders

"In the opening address to the [2002] Möbius conference Kim Clark, Dean of Harvard Business School, spoke about leadership with a small "l"—the sort of leadership that is needed in every organization to both serve and inspire our communities, businesses, and lives. 'We live in really remarkable times,' he said, stressing there remains 'a lot of optimism amidst all this turbulence.' Below, his advice on first-rate leadership.

"1. Integrity. We need leaders with strong values grounded in a commitment to a life that is whole and consistent with the things they believe. They should take personal responsibility for their actions and be honest with others, and with themselves.

"2. Energy. Leaders who energize and inspire other people make everyone around them better—not by administering, but by ministering.

"3. Inspiration. Trust and confidence are vital, but it is a leader's responsibility to help create a vision of what is possible. They should inspire others to see the greatness that is within them.

"4. Wisdom. Leaders need to be teachers. They must see beyond the horizon and understand the principles that underlie success. It is necessary to be a great communicator and teach in deed.

"5. Courage. Leaders have to do hard things. They have to have standards and make tough decisions that might make them unpopular, and do the right thing though the wrong thing is easier. Courage is hard, but it can be developed."

Read more in this HBS Working Knowledge article.