More effective leaders are needed in the workplace. These people not only get the job done, but they also cultivate an ambitious and productive staff.

Taking the time to get to know everyone and the job they do earns trust, says Dr. Scott Carnz, provost at City University of Seattle. In his previous position, a new president joined the staff. Prior to his hiring, motivation had been low, employees distrusted leadership and performance was down. The new president came armed with a clear vision and focus that he communicated to staff openly, widely and often.

“He empowered employees with the authority to get their job done and also with the knowledge of how their responsibilities tied into the larger direction of the institution,” Carnz explains. “Every day he walked the floors and monitored progress without micromanaging or spying over people’s shoulders.”

As a result, he became very loved, people bought into his vision, the organization turned around and got done what needed to be done, says Carnz.

What makes an effective leader?

In the scenario above, the new president provided a clear vision and direction for the work his staff did. He also supplied them with the resources and support they needed to achieve their goals, Carnz says.

“To be effective, one must additionally be open-minded, confident, possess high levels of integrity and courage, and be consistent, which is key,” says Carnz.


Technical know-how, humility and compassion also have their place in leadership, notes Dr. Laura Williamson, director of graduate programs for the School of Business and Management at CityU.

Do these traits describe you? If so, you may want to further cultivate them with a possible eye on a leadership position within your organization. Even if they don’t all fall into your wheelhouse yet, with concentrated effort, these behaviors can be learned and developed, Williamson says. Then you must incorporate the learned behaviors into what you do and how you do it.

Carnz says you can also study the volumes of material already written about leadership theory and practice and then put that knowledge to work. Take on leadership roles with small clubs, community organizations, non-profit board work or head a committee in the workplace, he suggests. You may discover you have a distinctive way of leading.

Different leadership styles

Most leaders draw on their natural abilities and lean into one type or the other based on the associated characteristics, says Carnz.

“By studying the various styles and how to implement them, a good leader can draw on a wide range of skills to adapt their style to fit the situation at hand,” Carnz says. “A truly effective leader is adaptable and can draw on many traits as needed.”

Williamson lists the following “types” of leaders as the most common:

  • Democratic – Team members have equal input on the directions of a project, which fosters cooperation and employee development.
  • Autocratic – All key decisions are made without any contributions from employees. They aren’t trusted in this extremely structured setting.
  • Laissez-faire – These leaders take a hands-off stance because they know their employees will get the work done, but they do give direction if and when it’s needed.
  • Paternalistic – Can be translated as “father (or mother) knows best.” A dominant authority regards his or her employees like family. In return, this individual wants trust, loyalty and obedience from employees.

Train to be a leader

City University offers Master of Business Administration degrees aligned with nine professional certifications. They include accounting, financial analyst, marketing, human resources and project management.

“Positions graduates qualify for range from equity manager to data analyst to business analyst, human resources management and everything in between,” says Williamson. “The options are only as limited as your interests and your passion.”

According to the Project Management Institute, the project management-oriented labor force is expected to grow by 33% through 2027 making these jobs in high demand.

Carnz notes that the health care, business development, data analytics, logistics and consulting fields is where he’s seeing increased demand.

“As businesses look to recover and grow as we emerge from the pandemic recession, need will only increase,” he says.

In summary, Carnz says that leadership has always been important, but today it’s even more so because of the challenges facing the world. They must make meaningful changes that will sustain organizations and cultures into the future.

Williamson emphasizes that leadership is not a job; it’s a way of being. If an individual has clarity of purpose but lacks courage, humility or compassion, they are probably self-serving rather than leading.

City University of Seattle is a private nonprofit university accredited through the doctoral level. It has been ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the Top 50 in the country for its online bachelor’s degree programs for eight consecutive years.