Please upgrade your web browser

These pages are built with modern web browsers in mind, and are not optimized for Internet Explorer 8 or below. Please try using another web browser, such as Internet Explorer 9, Internet Explorer 10, Internet Explorer 11, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Apple Safari.

Top 10 Attributes I Look for in a Leader – by Chris Costello, Executive Sales Leader…Best 50 Women in Business. Executive Positions at AT&T.

Leadership & Management

As a leader who has managed teams of up to 600 people in a fast-paced business with a constant flow of people movement, spotting talent quickly is critical to run a business. Here are the top attributes I look for in a leader:

  1. Authentic & Transparent
    You can sense in a matter of minutes if you feel someone’s warmth, if they are comfortable in their own skin and if you feel a sense of trust.

  2. Has Empathy & Empowers Teams
    Be empathetic and real with all of your interactions. Empower teams, recognize them, give them exposure to upper management. They will trust you and deliver 150%.

  3. Not Addicted to Approval
    People that manage day to day and make decisions solely to please others are going to be afraid of sometimes making the right decision, even if it’s an unpopular one.

  4. Knows How to Ask/Powerful Communicator
    Whether you are asking a customer for the sale or asking senior management for funding for a project…be fact based to state your case, it adds credibility and takes emotion out of discussions. One you have a credible case, ASK. If you can communicate powerfully, you can lead change and inspire others to get on board.

  5. Mentors Others/Extends the Ladder
    I have worked with leaders that come with a reputation for promoting and mentoring many people and loving to watch them thrive. You don’t want to be known for being the one that holds someone back.

  6. Collaborates
    Share best practices with your peers and help the tide rise across the entire team. In a company of any size, if you are a bull in china shop or someone that can’t be trusted, people will not want to work with you out of fear, stealing credit and may even deliberately slow you down.

  7. Results Driven
    Always work with the end goal in mind. We are being paid to hit milestones, reach goals, move quickly. Many times, the goals feel impossible but if you break down how to make the plan…where there is a will, there is a way.

  8. Get it Roughly Right and Go
    I have had a few work interactions where the phrase “analysis paralysis” comes to mind. Research, managing with facts, understanding competitive landscape is critical. But don’t wait so long that you actually miss the market. Some decisions have to be made without anticipating 100% of the risks.

  9. Have Fun
    We spend so many of our waking hours at work and with people at work. Laughter, joking, asking about people’s passions, hobbies, families and showing more of yourself through storytelling about your personal life goes a long way. It also breeds trust and shows your authentic self.

  10. Glass half full/can-do attitude
    Glass half full… leading with the power of positivity. I spoke with someone a few weeks ago on a Thursday and he said happy mini-Friday. It made me smile and put me in a good mood. Having a can-do attitude… It’s that vibe of “got it” “on it.” You come across as on board, willing to chip in, volunteer to take an extra project and share your knowledge for the good of the team. You will go far if you can master this.

If you have comments or feedback about any article, please email your thoughts to

About the Author

Write an Article

We welcome articles on any subject that might help our veterans. Articles are especially useful in place of frequently similar responses, and can be linked in your replies.

Add an article