94 Powerful Leadership Adjectives That Impress Hiring Managers
94 Powerful Leadership Adjectives That Impress Hiring Managers
Using words that often describe the greatest leaders of today in your resume can be a great way to sell your skills to a hiring manager and put yourself above other applicants. Whether you’re applying to a leadership position or looking for ways to frame your work experience accurately, these helpful terms can help you stand out. We talked to executive life coach Guy Reichard and certified career, leadership, & happiness coach Manuela Pauer to learn the qualities of great leaders and how you can become one yourself. Keep reading for more!
Adjectives to Describe a Leader

Traits That Make a Good Leader

Empowering The greatest leaders instill confidence in their team and inspire them to feel in control of their responsibilities and futures. Using “empowering” to describe your past achievements can emphasize your experiences with helping your team members learn, grow, and improve. “Empowered employees to meet weekly goals by implementing a new performance tracking system, which resulted in a 60% increase in production.” “I empowered my team to establish and run a successful outreach program, which raised $1 million and aided over 200 children and teens in the community.”

Passionate Good leaders tend to have (and show) a lot of positive feelings about their work, which motivates them to persevere in difficult times and inspires others to do their best. For hiring managers, using this phrase can be a good way to show that you actually love what you do and that you’ll put that energy toward your success. “Passionate self-starter with a love for solving complex problems and years of experience in self-stack software development.” “I’m a passionate marketing professional who loves creating compelling campaigns that resonate with and inspire audiences across the world.”

Decisive Making decisions quickly and confidently is one of the best qualities a leader can have, which is why the word “decisive” can be beneficial on a resume. While some leaders may constantly put an issue on the back burner, good leaders follow through and don’t freeze up in uncertainty when a decision needs to be made. “As a project manager with over 10 years of experience leading others, I am known for making decisive choices under pressure that drive revenue growth.” “When our viewership dropped, I decisively implemented new marketing strategies that increased our monthly revenue by 35% in just three months.”

Compassionate To become a powerful leader, Reichard says you need to “lead with all your heart, with deep love, care, compassion, honesty, courage, and bravery.” Adding “compassionate” to your resume can show hiring managers that you not only have the skills to be a leader, but you have the heart, too. “As a compassionate sales strategist, I excel at addressing customer needs and fostering collaboration among my team members.” “I’m a compassionate team leader with experience creating a positive work environment that prioritizes productivity, communication, and collaboration.”

Accountable An accountable leader not only takes complete responsibility for their actions but is willing to give others a satisfactory explanation for them. Adding “accountability” to your resume highlights your experience with making informed decisions that benefit the team and the company as a whole. “In my previous position, I was accountable for managing 20 team members to produce high-quality products.” “I held myself and my team members accountable for meeting monthly goals, which improved sales by 28%.”

Flexible In a constantly changing world, flexibility is an important trait for leaders because it shows that they can switch gears easily according to each situation. Words like “flexible” can show that you quickly adapt to new technology or rules and that you think of change as an opportunity to grow. “I’m a flexible manager with years of experience. In my last role, I oversaw a company-wide shift to develop a new product and expand our target customer market by 32%.” “As a flexible leader, I developed and managed our onboarding practices to incorporate emerging technologies, reducing the projected implementation time by 2 months.”

Observant Observant leaders are constantly aware of their surroundings and listen to their team, understanding each member’s strengths, weaknesses, and motivations. As a result, hiring managers tend to look for an applicant who takes time to look at their employees’ working conditions and takes steps to address their concerns. “Experienced and observant senior program manager who boosted new-hire retention by 8% by improving communication and implementing a new onboarding process.” “I’m an observant and dedicated support manager who raised employee engagement from 68% to 80% by identifying and implementing new team bonding initiatives.”

Approachable The team members of great leaders may feel as though they can come to them with any issue because they know their leader will work with them to find a solution. They know they won't be punished for speaking their mind, and their leader knows that their team has valuable insights that can improve the workplace for everyone. “As a team lead for nearly 15 years, I developed an open door policy to appear more approachable, which increased productivity.” “As a dedicated, approachable leader with over 30 years of managerial experience, I held open office meetings once a week to encourage team members to share their input.”

Honest Great leaders are transparent about the company’s goals and actions with their employees, which can result in a more collaborative work environment that gives everyone the resources they need. Ethical language like “honest” can make it clear to hiring managers that you are a high-character person who doesn’t cut corners to get ahead. “As an honest and ethical CEO, I am committed to helping Longevity Enterprises achieve its financial goals, serve its clients well, and contribute to its mission.” “Highly organized, honest, and results-focused manager with 8 years of experience spearheading projects and mentoring teams of 10 to 35 employees.”

Delegative Delegation, or handing out tasks to team members, is a vital leadership skill that can be difficult when put into practice. Words like “delegative” can communicate that you play to the strengths and goals of your team members, provide the right resources they need to succeed, and embrace failure as an opportunity to learn and move forward. “Managed and delegated responsibilities to 10 team members, tracked their progress, and provided feedback to help them improve.” “Effectively delegated tasks to employees based on their abilities and skills, ensuring the efficient and timely completion of each project’s goals.”

Leadership Adjectives to Use on a Resume

Good leaders quickly adjust to new and changing environments. Uncertainty is an inevitable part of business, so leaders who not only adapt to but embrace that uncertainty tend to be better equipped to make decisions and effectively manage change. They also encourage their team to take risks, be innovative, and develop a growth mindset. Prudent Fearless Versatile Adaptable Curious Capable Enterprising Open-minded Perceptive Energetic Composed Articulate Persuasive Resourceful Creative Optimistic Calm Efficient Self-motivated

Great leaders are friendly and welcoming to their teammates. Pauer says that a study conducted by leadership development consultants Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman showed that there are 10 skills most important for success. Three of these have to do with building relationships and inspiring others, which is what the traits below are all about. Fun Appreciative Charismatic Self-confident Inclusive Caring Encouraging Upbeat Likable Helpful Inviting Confident Genuine Good-natured Trusting Loyal Respectful Positive Kind Upstanding Welcoming Supportive Friendly Personable

They’re action-oriented and stay true to their values. The best leaders have integrity, and according to Reichard, “To lead with integrity is to be very clear about one’s values, that those values are aligned with and appreciated by the group being led…, and that they honor those commitments to the best of their abilities while being true to themselves and their values.” Orderly Consistent Ambitious Driven Bold Assertive Sensible Entrepreneurial Reliable Hard-working Organized Practical Diligent Intelligent Professional Forward-thinking Knowledgeable Ethical Results-driven Composed Logical Analytical Smart Fair

Leaders are honest about their strengths and stay true to their values. “Great leaders truly know their strengths—and can call on the right strength at the right time,” Pauer says. “That is great news because it means that we can be authentic and develop our own unique set of strengths and still be an effective leader. We don’t have to change our personality.” Responsive Transparent Progressive Sincere Inspiring Principled Truthful Eager Receptive Authentic Honest Dynamic Communicative Realistic Dependable Polite Objective Resilient

7 Great Leadership Qualities

Supports, facilitates, and motivates others Leadership isn’t just about seeking your own success—it’s about wanting others to succeed and helping them do so. Effective leaders aren’t afraid to take the spotlight off themselves and make their team members feel important and heard. For example, an effective leader may make sure their team members don’t feel punished for telling the truth or taking risks and instead encourage that behavior verbally. They also have respect for people at all levels in the company and embrace opportunities to mentor and develop the skills of up-and-coming leaders.

Displays mindfulness and self-awareness Knowing yourself—your biases, dreams, and experiences—can lead to better decision-making and a greater ability to influence the outcomes of those decisions. Great leaders are authentic about who they are and see their own self-development as a continuous process. To enhance their own self-awareness, a leader might write in a journal, practice meditation, and regularly seek feedback about their performance from others. However, great leaders also know they aren’t the smartest people in the room and surround themselves with people who aren’t afraid to challenge the rules and customs of the company.

Creates and communicates a clear vision Highly effective leaders create a clear vision for the path of the company and connect it back to that company’s motives and mission. By establishing a vision and gathering their team around a shared purpose, great leaders reduce uncertainty and provide focus and clarity in the workspace. A CEO of a t-shirt company might envision a way to put their products in stores across the country, and every action or decision they make helps that vision become reality. At the same time, the CEO constantly communicates where they see the company going to their employees and uses it to inspire them to work harder.

Able to innovate and encourage innovation According to a survey by XBInsight, creative and innovative leaders are more likely to effectively manage risk, lead courageously, and take advantage of opportunities, all while maintaining a strategic business plan. They also tend to create an environment where others feel free to share their own ideas. For example, a good leader may create an open meeting where they talk about the current workflow system and ask team members how they would improve it. A good leader might also encourage their team members to create solutions to problems they bring to them. Innovative leaders also know that there’s always a better way to do things, and constantly strive to improve working conditions and increase productivity.

Respectful of others and open to new ways to grow You may have heard the “golden rule”—“treat people the way you want to be treated.” This applies in the office, too. Knowing who you are, being open to change your methods, and wanting to treat others well are the traits that allow you to direct and guide your team members, who will help you build success.

Curious, genuine, and life-long learners Strong leaders recognize that learning is a journey, not a destination. They find joy in finding new ways to do things, they’re open to diverse perspectives, and they acknowledge that they don’t have all the answers. This not only leads to better business dynamics but a better relationship with their team. One study showed that curiosity is associated with higher levels of positive emotions, lower anxiety, greater satisfaction with life, and greater psychological well-being.

Make themselves part of the action Although it can seem that way, great leadership is not about setting yourself above the rest and keeping out of the fray. It’s about taking action, regularly talking to team members, making decisions, and constantly finding ways to help out. For example, an active leader might keep their office door open so they can help when they’re needed.

Crafting an Effective Resume for a Leadership Position

Highlight each job’s responsibilities and keywords in your resume. Each time you apply for a new job, take time to carefully review each job description and highlight 5 to 6 important responsibilities. Then, include a few of the keywords from them into your resume. Tweaking your resume to fit each position can help illustrate that you’re the right leader for the job. For example, if one of the duties from the job posting says “Develops strategic marketing campaigns,” you may include that in your list of duties for a past job if it applied to it. More than 90% of employers use a tracking system to filter out resumes based on keywords. Including skills from the job posting can increase the chances that your resume will actually be sent to the recruiter.

Focus on your achievements, not your responsibilities. Hiring managers often focus on what you have accomplished, not just what you have been tasked with doing in the past. In the description of each of your past positions, keep the summary of your duties short and concise, and provide more room to talk about how you benefited the company. Instead of writing “Created a new workflow system,” you might say “Spearheaded the development of a new workflow system that increased productivity and drove sales by 16%.” You might list how many team members you supervised, talk about how many assets you managed, or include any statistics of your success that the company provides you with.

Consider adding a summary of your qualifications at the top. A summary about you can grab the hiring manager’s attention and demonstrate your value as an applicant. Write a brief 2 to 3 sentence summary that talks about what you do, what special skills or knowledge you possess, and any other information that could make you stand out above other applicants. You might write something like “Dynamic leader with 10 years of experience encouraging collaboration and achieving strategic goals. Led up to 20 person teams, fostering a workplace culture of innovation and compassion. Proficient in project management, conflict resolution, and employee development.”

Limit your resume to 1 to 2 pages and use an eye-catching layout. If possible, try to limit your resume to 1 page—this way, hiring managers only have to skim the information for your qualifications. Use underlined or bolded text to emphasize your skills and experiences, and try to avoid using overly fancy fonts or tons of color. Keep your font size to 10, 11, or 12 and list your achievements or duties in each position with concise bullet points. Use past tense when talking about your past positions, and present tense when writing about your current job.

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