The only 7 traits you need to become a great leader (+ how to develop each one)

Julia MacDonald
3 min readJul 1, 2022


Over the last 15 years, I have worked with leaders at companies such as McKinsey, Deloitte & Lazard, have advised founders of $100M+ startups and Fortune 500 executives.

Amazingly, there are 7 only leadership traits that ALL these leaders have in common:

  1. Assertiveness
  2. Self-Control
  3. High Energy Level
  4. High Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Level
  5. Patience
  6. Optimism
  7. Creativity

The good news is: all of these traits are learnable.

The best news is: you can train all these traits COMBINED in under 60min a day.

Let me show you how:


Assertiveness is the ability to protect one’s boundaries and say “no” to things.

  1. 3–4 times a day observe your wishes. Implement as many as you can.
  2. 3–4 times a day picture an intimidating situation where you need to say no. “Sit” with the fear until your brain habituates to it
  3. Every week say “no” to 5 people (excluding kids and family)

Self Control

Success is often a by-product of consistency.

Consistency, in turn, comes from self-control.

  1. Create a daily, prioritized task list. Work your way down the list in the order created (don't skip tasks and jump around)
  2. Adopt a “doing” mentality (“I will exercise 3 times a week” instead of “I will try to exercise 3 times a week”)
  3. Keep a daily journal of your top 5 achievements (no matter how small)

High Energy Level

A high energy level is simply a must if you want to get a lot done.

Here are some immediately actionable ways to increase your energy level:

  1. Set 50+ different goals per year. This is a psychological hack. As our brain sees lots of goals it “gets the message” that we need a lot of energy
  2. Spend 15min a day learning about a topic that interests you
  3. Switch your learning environment: for instance, work and study outside

High Emotional Intelligence (EQ-level)

People with high EQ are more content with life and form connections easier.

  1. Every day observe people around you. Ask yourself “what is this person feeling at the moment?”
  2. Listen actively and don’t interrupt
  3. 1x a month volunteer for a non-profit (ideally where you will be working in teams)


Life is full of circumstances we cant change immediately. Patience is required to achieve the best outcome.

  1. 3–4 times a day picture situations you are worried about. “Sit” with the fear until your brain habituates to it.
  2. Train daily on the small stuff (e.g. resist the urge to check your social media for 10min)
  3. Listen actively and don’t interrupt


Optimism is key to bouncing back from failures, which are an inevitable part of any journey.

  1. Daily, write down 10 things you are grateful for
  2. Weekly, brainstorm 10 ideas to solve your biggest problems. Then, brainstorm 10 ways to enable each of these ideas
  3. Take at least 30min to reflect on the learnings from each of your failures (no matter how big or small)


Creativity is a muscle that anyone can develop.

  1. Write down 10 ideas daily (quality doesn’t matter)
  2. Pursue your inner curiosity. Research answers to questions that come to your mind
  3. Spend 1–2 hours a week on hobbies unrelated to your work

All the above traits can be trained under 1.5 hours a day!

Moreover, you can combine these exercises to train multiple traits at once. For instance, brainstorming 10 solutions to your problems will train your optimism and creativity. Fear “sitting” will train your patience and your assertiveness.

Unlock a profound professional and personal growth by investing your time in yourself. Few people are good at all these traits at once so it’s easy to stand out.



Julia MacDonald

I help founders start and scale tech startups