For some, leadership isn’t a choice—it’s a habit. That means that working one’s way up the ranks of an organization is something akin to destiny. If you’re hoping to pursue a career with leadership responsibilities, you’ll need to introspect and understand your personal successes and shortcomings before taking the lead. These are the traits that can make—or break—leaders.

Make: Flexibility

You’ve likely heard the saying, “the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” Nowhere is this truer than in the life of a leader. No matter how much data you collect, how intensely you forecast, or how much time you dedicate to preparing for change, it’s bound to happen. And, while it’s fine and well to prepare when you’re expecting the unexpected, being able to roll with the punches is just as essential. Make sure you’re prepared to be unprepared, however paradoxical that sounds.

Break: Dependence

It’s important to not be too independent as a leader since communication and collaboration are two of the more important aspects of the job. However, don’t mistake communication with dependence. If you’re leaning too heavily on your employees for assistance with tasks and decision-making, you’re likely not proving yourself to be the one in control. Leaders must be able to execute decisions, and while good leaders take into account the thoughts and feelings of those they manage, it’s important to prove that you can handle the workload you’ve taken on. In this case, it’s vital to strike a balance between listening to and assisting your employees, and completing your own work and finalizing your own decisions. 

Make: Dedication

Several comics have been made depicting bosses and leaders—the boss being a whip-cracking instructor, and the leader helping the employees on the ground. The images are quite applicable, and showcase the importance of dedication for successful leaders. The ability to help out with the groundwork and connect with employees shows a dedication not just to the job, but to the people who do it. Such dedication can lead to higher morale, more productivity, and smoother interpersonal relations.

Break: Self-Doubt

It’s human nature to second-guess yourself. However, leaders don’t always have the luxury of self-doubt. Leaders must remain positive, beacons of hope and courage for those looking up to them. That doesn’t mean leaders should ignore self-doubt or fear—rather, they should train themselves to understand and address the roots of such problems. All the same, your attitude as a leader directly influences other employees who work with you. While it’s a tricky balance to strike, your best bet is to admit to challenges that arise, but remain confident that you can overcome whatever is thrown your way.