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7 Traits of a Great Leader

At HVO Search, we talk with leaders in Fashion, Beauty, Luxury, Lifestyle and Wellness on a daily basis. Over the years, we’ve learned a lot about the problems they face, the strategies they use to overcome them and the reasons behind their success.

These are our insights and learnings into the traits that all great leaders share.

1. They Radiate Positive Energy

There is nothing more important in a team than passion and the willingness to succeed.

Having a positive leader is an important part of that. Not only does this make them more likeable, leading to more trust, it also boosts team morale. And countless studies have shown that this leads to more productivity.

People respond well to positivity. When you enter the meeting room with a smile and confidence, you receive the same in return.

Tip: It is possible to learn how to radiate more positive energy. Expert advice includes good body language, giving thanks and taking time to care for yourself.

2. They are just as comfortable leading in uncertain times as they are when times are good.

Uncertainty is a permanent part of our lives. Rarely will there be a moment where you are certain and absolutely sure of what is coming next.

In the unsettling crisis we face ourselves in, these words have never been more true.

It is rarely possible for even the most powerful leaders to eliminate uncertainty. Instead, they learn to navigate their team through it.

In fact, the best leaders embrace uncertainty and thrive under it.

Uncertainty can be contagious and trigger anxiety and resistance.

But when you disrupt the status quo, you create opportunity. And in today's climate of uncertainty, leaders have the opportunity to harness this anxiety in positive ways and fuel innovation and productivity.

Tips: Stay focused on your mission, acknowledge concerns out loud and together, devise ways to overcome them. Reward bravery and encourage decisiveness.

3. They have a proactive attitude

In our workplaces, it is very easy to be reactive. Within minutes, your calendar can fill up with meetings initiated by others, leaving you little time to do any actual work.

Being reactive is easy, because you just ride the wave that other people have created for you. Proactive leadership takes work, because you need to carve out time in your day to focus on it.

As I mentioned in section 2, we are living in very uncertain times and right now, the best method to help your brand survive the storm and thrive when it has settled is to have a mixed reactive and proactive approach.

You should adjust and pivot your strategy in line with the current crisis whilst maintaining your brand’s long-term vision.

None of us have had any experience in dealing with a global crisis such as this one. Many brands have massively shifted their strategy. For example, focusing solely on eCommerce and digital whilst stores are closed.

And as more events unfold, you will need to continue to adjust your strategy in line with them, making faster decisions than you may be used to.

However, this does not mean that your brand’s long-term plan has gone out of the window. In fact, continuing with your brand’s mission and goals and finding opportunity in uncertainty will be key to a successful future.

And remember, if something goes wrong, it is easy to blame somebody else or to focus on why it happened. However, great leaders put this aside and instead shift their focus onto solving the problem at hand.

Once the problem is solved, they then sit down with the team to discuss ways of preventing the same from happening again.

Knowing what to focus on at any given point in time is a skill that should be honed throughout your career.

Tip: Here are examples of the tools and mindsets proactive people use: set daily goals, block off time for difficult activities so that you are more focused, set deadlines and review results.

4. They delegate tasks

No matter how skilled you are and how much time you dedicate to your career, you cannot do everything yourself.

Effective leaders not only delegate tasks but are thoughtful in the way they do so - choosing the people who will execute the task to the highest standard.

Furthermore, they don’t put too much pressure on one individual, but share the workload as a team.

Often people are hesitant and reluctant to delegate tasks, believing that they could do a better job than others can. This is problematic for a number of reasons:

1. Spreading your time too thinly means that quality is often lost.

As the saying goes, “If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well.”

And quality matters. The results of the jobs you do have a knock-on effect and make a difference to the product or service you are asking people to buy.

2. You risk becoming burned out.

Taking on too much can cause stress, and feeling emotionally overwhelmed. It can even make you more vulnerable to physical illnesses. Burnout reduces productivity and saps your energy - all in all, it is much healthier for you and much more productive for your team to offload a task from your plate to someone who has the capacity to work on it.

3. It does not build trust within your team.

Even if you do delegate a task to someone, if you continue to micromanage, you are telling your team that you don’t trust their capabilities or talent. Delegating can bring unexpected rewards, you may learn that a member of your team has qualities and skills

Tip: When delegating tasks, always include instructions and play to your teams’ strengths. Be willing to teach new skills. Once you have delegated, be trusting but verify the results at the end.

5. They are approachable

A great leader is one who teammates can see themselves approaching whenever they have a concern. They make time for others and make it clear that people come first.

Effective leaders encourage feedback - a productive work environment is one where employees feel like they can speak up without fear of being punished or fired.

In turn, this leads to more trust, a better connection and understanding with your colleagues and higher levels of productivity.

Tip: Put honest communication at the forefront of your approach and make it clear to your team that your door is always open. Body posture, eye contact and smiling go a long way too!

6. They do what they expect of others

If you expect hard work and great results, you need to lead by example. Seeing the hard work and effort you put in will encourage your team to do the same.

And by setting an example, you garner the respect of your team.

Just like your team, leaders are not responsible for always being right. However, they are accountable for seeing problems and turning them into opportunities and solutions.

This proactive attitude ensures that momentum is never lost.

Tip: Don’t be afraid to get your hands ‘dirty’ and take responsibility. You won’t look weak for making a mistake, nobody is perfect. Showing vulnerability gains respect and not being afraid to make mistakes builds a culture of trust.

7. They are decisive

Making decisions that are well-informed and time-sensitive is a crucial part of being a successful leader.

Decisive leaders work together with their team to seek out the information they need to make an effective decision.

At work, decisiveness is key to effectively executing plans and achieving goals.

When doing so, it’s important to balance the costs of delaying a decision to deliberate further versus making a poor choice that costs more money in the long run.

Weigh these decisions carefully and when you decide, be confident and clear in your choice. This will increase focus and directions when achieving your objectives.

Tip: Understand and write down your own habits when it comes to decision making (or get someone who knows you well to do this). This will help you understand more about how you want to approach decisions and how you should approach them.

At HVO Search, we place leaders who share your brand’s values, mission and ethics. During this crisis, we are also placing experts in crisis management in interim CEO and C-Suite roles. If you'd like to find out more, please get in touch.

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