Common Traits of Successful Leaders in Business and Arts

Successful leaders in arts and business can vary dramatically in personality, from Bill Gates’ soft-spoken wisdom to a bandleader’s invigorating outward passion. There is no specific personality that works for a leader in the arts or business; history shows that success can be found and leadership effectively demonstrated through an eclectic range of personality types.

Despite there being no centralized ideal personality for a business leader or bandleader, there are several traits in these roles that can be easily recognizable, regardless of their personality type. For anyone that strives to become a successful leader, it’s worth working toward the traits below:


If a leader does not express confidence in their content – to the point that they’re willing to risk money and reputation for it – then investors will be unlikely to do the same. A leader’s job is to maintain morale in the toughest of times, all while logically distributing praise and retaining momentum during the brightest of times. By reminding employees that mistakes happen and that the team is talented and responsible enough to amend for them without a hitch, there will be less stress and pressure among the entire team, resulting in fewer mishaps and miscommunication issues.

Open to Risk-Taking

A leader can make a decent living if they play it safe, but there aren’t any major success stories that haven’t experienced their share of risk-taking. “As an entrepreneur you should be willing to take risks and trust your judgement when you do, but you always have to think about the worst-case scenario,” says Virgin Group founder Richard Branson. Employees will mostly be afraid of taking risks due to job security; it’s up to the leader to do so when they evaluate that the potential risk is worth the potential reward.

Sense of Humor

Some leaders crack jokes whenever they get the chance. Others are more reserved. But they all have some sense of humor. Even for leaders who may not have seemed very comedic, like Steve Jobs, they utilized their own brand of humor when necessary — which was usually to uplift employees low on morale. Bill Gates referred to Jobs’ sense of humor as dry and “classic.” Not all owners have to be a comedian, like Mark Cuban often is on Shark Tank, but using humor as a morale-booster and a way to lighten the air is something that all great leading entrepreneurs do.

Skillful Delegation

Somewhat obviously, being able to cohesively and effectively distribute tasks is a trait of any great leader. Even the most motivated and skilled employees can be vastly under-utilized if their boss is subpar at delegating tasks. By delegating tasks to ideal employees, leaders show that they have trust in their team and have genuinely paid attention to their skills. Ideally, leaders identify individual strengths and take advantage of them. Top-notch leaders also use employees’ hobbies as a way to identify tasks they may enjoy, which increases the likelihood that they do a great job completing the task.

The Ability to Inspire and Spread Knowledge

If an employee ever feels as if they are superior – in terms of passion or knowledge – than their boss, they are unlikely to put full effort forth in their daily tasks. A leader’s ability to inspire and spread knowledge always ensures that this is not the case; simultaneously serving as a teacher, collaborator and all-around leader will prevent any employee from feeling as if their role is insufficient or disregarded.

Although leaders in arts and business vary in personality and individual approach, the top entrepreneurial leaders in the world often share the five traits/skills above. When striving to become the next great leader, they are absolutely worth keeping in mind.

Mike Mineo

I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound, which was formed in 2006. Previously, I wrote for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine.

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