Leadership, a term often emphasized yet not easily defined. What makes a good leader? Perhaps someone who empowers others; an influencer—both personally and professionally—with the ability to maximize effort and productivity; someone who is looked to when difficult business decisions arise; when you fail, they always make sure it’s forward. Leaders are trusted, respected, visionaries and relationship builders. Leaders have a measurable, positive impact, not only on employee engagement, culture and brand, but on the bottom line.

The most successful businesses are chock-full of strong and potential leaders; talent willing to follow yet driven to lead—regardless of position, rank or title. As we enter further into an era driven by social media and technology, stretched thin by increasing demand and defined by endless change, it’s never been more apparent: Talented leadership and leadership potential are integral.

To uncover the mark of good leadership, we turn to this week’s edition of Talent Acquisition Fast Facts:

According to research conducted by Bersin by Deloitte, 56% of company leaders expect a shortage of “qualified executive talent” in the years ahead. In response, 71% of these organizations are increasing their focus on the development of “high potentials” (i.e., lower-level staff with the capabilities and competencies to grow into leadership roles).

There was a 12% increase in learning and development spending in 2012—the largest increase in nearly a decade, according to Bersin by Deloitte.

The Conference Board’s 2014 CEO Challenge (survey), features responses from more than 1,000 CEOs and presidents across the globe; when asked to report on the top business challenges facing their organizations in 2014 and beyond, the number one response among contributing leaders:

  • Human Capital: How to effectively recruit, retain, engage, manage and develop talent—perhaps indicating that these leaders believe maximizing talent begins with (and is sustained through) strong leadership.

According to research at Harvard University, 85% of a leader’s performance depends on “personal character.” Interestingly, according to a study conducted by Ernst & Young, at least 30-45% of investor decisions are linked to “quality of management.”

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Consulting firm and online business resource, Team Technology, conducted a study to uncover effective leadership, surveying approximately 4,000 professionals; when asked what qualities “are most likely to make them follow a leader,” the following five traits were provided more than any others:

1) Honesty

2) Confidence

3) Knowledgeable

4) Intelligent

5) Ability

Respondents of the Team Technology study also listed the top three Negative Leadership Qualities:

1) Arrogance

2) Dishonesty

3) Selfishness

According to the aforementioned study conducted by The Conference Board, CEOs worldwide view integrity (which fosters trust) as the top leadership attribute.

According to 2013 research conducted by Quantum Workplace, which gathered feedback from more than 5,000 organizations, “trust in senior leaders” has the greatest impact on organizations’ overall level of engagement.

According to a study conducted by Andersen Consulting’s Institute for Strategic Change, successful companies that are “well led” achieve 900% company stock price growth over the course of 10 years; successful companies that are “poorly led,” conversely, achieve just 74% stock price growth.

Most businesses understand the importance of strong leadership (at all levels), but how do you separate the exceptional from the sub-standard—before putting someone in a leadership role? What indicators are more important: professional qualifications or soft skills/personality traits? Are there any leadership qualities that you find vital not mentioned above?

We’d love to hear your thoughts on these and other related issues below!