Seven Leadership Traits Not Normally Mentioned

John Dupre, MBA and John Goldberg, MBA.

Activity Summary

In this activity, the participants review and discuss seven leadership traits that are out of the ordinary. The participants also explore which of the traits they are stronger in and which they most want to improve in. Finally, the participants discuss ways to improve in those priority areas.


  • To learn about leadership traits not normally mentioned.
  • To explore the participants’ stronger leadership traits and the ones they most want to improve in.
  • To discuss methods for becoming better leaders.

Group Size

10 or more.

Time Required

2 hours


  • A copy of the Seven Leadership Traits Not Normally Mentioned handout for each participant
  • A flip chart and a felt-tipped marker for recording
  • Masking tape for posting flip chart sheets

Physical Setting

A room large enough for the groups to work without disturbing one another. Writing surfaces should be provided. Wall space is required for posting flip chart sheets.


1. Introduce yourself, including brief information about a leadership role or roles you play or have played in your life. Ask the participants to do the same. Share the objectives of the activity. (15 minutes)

2.  Give a lecturette based on the Seven Leadership Traits Not Normally Mentioned handout. (15 minutes)

3. Distribute a copy of the Seven Leadership Traits Not Normally Mentioned handout to each participant.

4.  Divide the participants into trios.

5.  Ask each trio to discuss the traits they are stronger in and the ones they most need to improve in, then to choose, as a trio, one trait that at least two members of the trio are strong in and one trait at least two of them want to improve in. (20 minutes)

6.  Reconvene the whole group. Ask each group to report out the traits they are stronger in and the ones they most want to improve in. (15 minutes)

7.  Conduct a whole group multi-voting/straw poll session to choose the top two or three traits in which participants most want to improve. (5 minutes)

8.  Conduct a whole group brainstorming session for how the participants can improve in the two or three traits they chose, brainstorming about one trait at a time. (15 minutes)

9.  Ask volunteers to make a public commitment to one action they will take to improve their leadership. (5 minutes)

10.  When volunteers have finished making commitments, ask the following questions of the whole group, using flip chart sheets to record significant issues and posting the sheets as necessary:

  • What did you learn about your leadership traits?
  • Who can you think of who could help you become a better leader?
  • How can you use what you learned today?

(15 minutes).


Present a slide show or display a poster with the list of leadership traits rather than providing a handout.


Seven Leadership Traits Not Normally Mentioned

Most leadership books mention the same leadership traits over and over. They are packaged differently from best seller to best seller, but are fundamentally the same. Here are seven leadership traits not normally mentioned:

1. Good translator

Managers often have advanced degrees from universities. While this is obviously beneficial, there is one downside. Graduate programs teach students a new language full of complicated, intellectual concepts. Therefore, managers need to re-learn how to talk. They need the ability to make complex ideas and concepts simple for people to understand.

2. Adaptive sight of vision

Some managers focus their attention on the big picture. They see the entire puzzle and are most interested in putting it together in a coordinated, efficient manner. Other managers focus their attention on each piece of the puzzle. They look at the smallest details. Strong leadership requires the ability to find the right balance between training your eyes on the big picture and the smallest details. Both are important.

3. Strong, quiet presence

Managers often have a need to talk………to explain their position, to make a decision, to ask a question, or to draw out their direct reports. It’s a natural response. But, they also need to learn how to keep their mouths shut. It’s the only way to transfer responsibility to others. The ability to keep center stage without saying a word is probably the most difficult and the most useful skill to learn.

4. Compelling storyteller

Storytelling is contagious. People remember stories that are told and they tend to spread, getting told over and over. It’s a subtle way of teaching, of shaping the culture of the organization. Managers need the ability to guide, influence, and teach others through telling stories.

5. Visionary artist

We all get caught up in what is going on in our organization at the moment. We tend to live in the present tense. But this can lead to reactive behavior. Managers need the ability to think into the future, to be proactive. They need the skills to create and communicate a compelling image of their function or organization in the future.

6. Reflective learner

If you train your ears to hear the word “they”, you hear it all of the time. “If only they would get their act together.” Everyone is waiting for “they” to change. This paralyzes organizations. Strong leadership requires the ability to look in the mirror and to see your own contribution to problems. And to learn from it.

7. Adaptive gear changer

We have all adapted to living in a fast paced world at work. Technology has speeded up, competition is fierce, and change is constant. This has led to a shorter attention span. Managers need the ability to shift gears back and forth between moving quickly and slowing down. Both are critical.


John Dupre is on the forefront of organizational development consulting. He is a nationally renowned speaker on leadership and is author of “Looking in the Mirror: Do We Practice What We Preach?” (The Journal of Management Consulting).  John has more than 30 years of experience, including:

  • Director of Organization Development at Mattel, Inc.
  • President of Block Petrella Weisbord, Inc.
  • Adjunct professor at Antioch University

He has an MBA from the Anderson School at UCLA.

Contact: John Dupre, 11147 Shadow Court, Auburn, CA 95602. Telephone: (530)-820-3033.

John Goldberg provides training in leadership, communication, teamwork, and career and personal development. He served for seven years as Manager, Organization Development for a Fortune 500 company. John teaches at the University of California, Davis Graduate School of Management. He is active in the California Network of Learning Professionals. John lives in Sacramento with his wife and two children.

Contact: John Goldberg, 442 T Street, Sacramento, CA 95818-2122. Telephone: (916) 444-3353.