What makes a leader?

Call me a dork, but I love researching noteworthy leadership information that I can translate to the lay person in a meaningful, actionable way.

My recent search, however, raised more questions than it answered. I guess that's appropriate since leadership as a research topic only became popular about 40 years ago. There are still many unanswered questions about what leadership is (i.e. a set of actions, an innate trait, and mental perspective?) and what it affects (i.e. role, influence, productivity, etc.)

What do you think makes a leader?

One of the most important questions, I feel, in the leadership research is the impact of emotional intelligence on the performance of leaders. We were just beginning to the ask this sort of question seriously about 15 years ago (Brown et al. 2005, Boyatzis et al. 2002). Now whole research teams are organized to answer the question of how emotion plays a part in our leadership performance (see Richard Boyatzis' work as an example).

The inquiry is drawing interesting connections, baffling synchronicities, and uncovering the hidden patterns that communicate 'leader'.

What do you think makes a good leader? And what traits do you think a powerful and effective leader should have? Inquiring minds want to know, please leave your comments below or share with me on LinkedIn.

Matthew Koren is a team management and leadership consultant and executive coach based out of Portland, OR. To learn more and receive great, useful content each month, sign up for my email list here.


1. F. William Brown, and Dan Moshavi, "Transformational Leadership and Emotional Intelligence: A Potential Pathway for an Increased Understanding of Interpersonal Influence," Journal of Organizational Behavior, 26, no. 7 (2005): 867-871, http://www.jstor.org/stable/4093959 (accessed January 13, 2014).

2. Richard E. Boyatzis, Elizabeth C. Stubbs, and Scott N. Taylor, "Learning Cognitive and Emotional Intelligence Competencies Through Graduate Management Education," Academy of Management Learning & Education, 1, no. 2 (2002): 150-162, http://amle.aom.org/content/1/2/150.short (accessed January 13, 2014).