Five Main Criteria of a Productive Leader

Five Main Criteria of a Productive Leader 

Thought Leadership

In the journey of advancing our careers and assuming leadership roles, this article explores key criteria for effective leadership, emphasising authenticity, teamwork, mentorship, empowerment, and empathy, while debunking the notion that fear is a more potent motivator than love in building lasting success.

As we grow in our respective careers, our responsibility to be great leaders and managing a team becomes an increasingly important focus. Below are some of the main criteria to assist you along the way and make your transition a bit easier.


Nothing provides people with more credibility and the respect of others than being authentic. As a leader, you are not supposed to have the answer to every question or problem, but you should always position yourself as one of the main ambassadors and pillars of the company, and the requirement to always be honest and transparent with everyone around you.

With that comes a sense of vulnerability and the fear of being exposed to any potential gaps within your role. This is where you need to look at how you can improve every day for both yourself and the team that you are managing by focusing on your strengths, while always looking at where you can improve; at the end of the day, you have reached the level where you’re currently at for a reason so always remember that.


As the famous saying goes, “You are only as good as your weakest link”, so you need to always make sure that you have a talented and efficient team around you who work well together and are more than just a sum of their contributions. A sense of synergy should always be present within the team with everyone looking to provide their thoughts, and feeling that they are part of this journey.

Team comradery is also key here to keep building that chemistry and trust between one another by investing the proper time and looking to set up both informal and formal meetings, through team outings and one-on-one meetings every few months. This will allow everyone to feel comfortable talking to each other, while also working together on establishing a consistently constructive relationship, where everyone is learning how to work with each other more efficiently. 


The most underrated characteristic of a good leader is to always be able to provide mentorship and direction, especially to the less senior members of your team and leveraging the experience, which you have built up through the years to help them get to where they need to be, and being the best versions of themselves. Experience is always the best teacher in life and nothing will give you more confidence than to refer to a previous situation where you assisted in solving a problem or potential crisis and teaching this so that they can implement the same.

We have all probably worked for bad managers at one time or another where the communication focuses more on micro-management and intense supervision, which never ends well for anyone. Employees will end up feeling discouraged and unmotivated in pursuit of their next role, while the manager is left alone to pick up the pieces and trying to rebuild when they already had a great team to begin with. 


The quickest way to maximise your team’s success and productivity is by looking at how you can upskill every member of your team, setting them up and ultimately the company as a whole for success. As a leader, you need to always seek where the potential lies with each person and how you can play a part in improving this. Junior members of the team, especially will always be more excited to grasp as much information as possible and ask a lot of questions so your role here is pivotal in being receptive and providing them with the right information that will allow them to grow and flourish in their role.

If the time is not invested in your colleagues, then this only becomes a job that they clock in and out of, without ever realising or reaching their full potential, at least not in their current workplace. Of course, not every person has that potential,  but it is your responsibility to invest the time and energy in each individual and provide them with the tools to succeed.


One of the most important traits of being a good leader is empathy and respecting everyone’s feelings, whether it is an issue that they are having at work or in their personal lives. If a person requires an off day because they actually “need it” or are dealing with mental health issues, then that should always be provided with the rest of the team picking up the slack during this period. You always want to listen and be conscious of everyone’s feelings, but keeping in mind that we are all here to do a job, so while you aim to always be empathetic and flexible, a person’s struggles should not serve as a permanent struggle to the organisation.

Niccolo Machiavelli, an Italian Renaissance philosopher, politician, poet and historian is popular for his quote in his most notable work, “The Prince”,  where he writes, "It is better to be feared than to be loved, if one cannot be both.", to which he argues that fear is a better motivator than love, and therefore why it is the more effective tool for leaders. To me personally, this quote works if you are trying to lead an army but you can never build long-term success by instilling fear in people and all relationships, whether personal or at work should be built organically through mutual trust and respect as its main foundation.

Karim Geadah is Account Director - Corporate Practice at Atteline.

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