Leadership is a practical skill in an individual, organisation, or group showing the ability to influence or guide others, make essential decisions, and carry out important tasks.
You’ve probably come across the term “born leaders”. Well, this is true. What’s also true is that leaders are created.
This means you can learn the leadership qualities, improve on them, and make a great leader. A good leader knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.
What Are Good Leadership Qualities?
Often, we’re quick to point out bad leadership qualities but are we awake enough to identify good leadership qualities?
According to John Quincy Adam, the 6th President of the United States and a celebrated statesman, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
Well, this famous quote gives you a glimpse of what it entails to be an excellent leader.
Let’s look at some good leadership qualities that make you an outstanding leader!
Good communication is a critical trait in a good leader.
For effective communication to occur, you need to listen, affirm, communicate, simplify and illustrate across a wide range of people.
As a leader, you should express ideas and share information with your audience.
In addition, you must think with clarity and learn how to handle the flow of information within your organisation.
Effective communication is two-way traffic. You express your mind and at the same time listen and understand the information you’re receiving.
A visionary leader sees what is invisible to others. The future of an organisation is as bright as the vision of its leaders.
Visionary leaders lead by example. They share their vision with the rest of the company and rallying teams to drive it forward in an inspiring rather than dictatorial manner.
True visionary leaders offer their teams the flexibility to figure out the best way to bring their company’s goal to life.
They also understand that it will require a lot of discipline and dedication to see it through.
Empathy is a vital attribute in a good leader as it shows emotional intelligence.
As a leader, you have to be open-minded enough to accommodate the hopes, dreams, motivations, and problems your followers face.
This will enable you to connect with them at a deeper personal level.
Empathy is not about being nice. It’s walking a mile in your followers’ shoes and understanding where they are coming from -accommodating their environment.
Teams and organisations led by individuals possessing high emotional intelligence tend to work hard and persevere through rough times.
“A good leader takes little more than his share of the blame, and little less than his share of the credit” is the advice from famous business leader Arnold Glasow regarding accountability.
Accountable leaders are willing to answer for the result of their actions without blaming others when things go haywire.
Accountable leaders act as role models to their subjects, encouraging them to receive credit where it’s due and accept blame when in the wrong.
Very few bosses say thank you to their employees, but most are quick to scold when things go wrong.
Gratitude is an essential trait in a good leader as it promotes high self-esteem self-confidence.
Gratitude should come from the team leaders and team players as that creates a bond of teamwork and cooperation among colleagues.
Expressing gratitude fuels your team to do better and increases their morale in the workplace.
Motivation drives most aspects of our lives. Highly self-motivated leaders define and attain the set goals, inspire others to adopt their style, and continuously evolve and improve on themselves.
As a leader, you can enhance your self-motivation by working on your physical fitness, networking, accountability, and remaining focused.
In addition, self-motivated leaders create a sense of passion for their jobs, motivating the followers to challenge themselves as they strive to achieve the organisation’s vision.
Ethical leaders conduct themselves appropriately directed by values, beliefs, dignity, and rights acceptable to others.
They walk the talk, meaning they set high standards and follow them through influencing the organisation’s values.
Ethical leaders set high behaviour boundaries, and their values are visible in their actions.
As a result, ethical leaders command a high level of respect, trust from their followers and those seeking the services they oversee.
In addition, they are humble, strive for fairness, show responsibility, and respect each individual.
Honesty is the pillar of good leadership. Albert Einstein said, “Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.”
Honesty is the foundation of trust, and trust is essential for effective collaboration. To perform their tasks properly, individuals in a team must trust that the information they get from leaders is reliable.
As a leader, you may face scenarios where dishonesty seems to be the only way out, but the consequences are dire, especially if you can’t maintain the lie.
To be safe, tell the truth all the time and teach honesty to your team.
Focus is the ability of a leader to direct attention. If a leader can focus their attention, they can influence others to do the same.
Neuroscience shows that focus can be directed to three dimensions: Ourselves, others, and the wider world.
A good leader can achieve the three categories of focus which helps cultivate their emotional intelligence. A focused leader can set strategies, innovate and manage large organisations.
Creativity is the ability to conceive and visualise innovative solutions when facing a challenging situation.
A creative leader can abandon a rigid structure of thinking and embrace new ways to solve issues.
A visionary leader can solve problems, achieve growth, mentor workers, and create a success plan.
Creative leaders have a mindset to think strategically about what happens globally and its influence in the future.
In this case, they look at things in a new way and at different angles that others don’t.
Decisive leaders can make clear-cut and timely decisions by seeking appropriate options while considering the input of others.
Decisiveness is essential when it comes to making important decisions, executing plans, and achieving goals.
Decisive leaders gather information from resources like direct reports, colleagues, and fellow leaders, and then with enough details, they make the final decision.
They also weigh the possible options, do a careful evaluation before making an important decision.
Positivity is a good attribute in a leader that is often overlooked.
The thing is, workplaces can be stressful for employees and leaders alike, and good leaders have a positive outlook instead of getting frustrated and assigning blame in times of crisis.
It takes great strength to remain positive in a stressful or unfortunate situation. A good leader keeps a straight head even when things are not going as planned.
Positive leaders inspire their followers based on the behaviour they exhibit and attitude when under pressure.
When a leader is positive in the workplace, the team can mirror and act as their leader.
13. Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence is the ability of a leader to understand and manage their own emotions while being open to understanding the feelings of those around them.
A leader portrays emotional intelligence as a combination of empathy, social skills, self-awareness, self-control, and communication.
This accounts for about 90 percent of what sets a leader apart from a group of their peers.
An emotionally intelligent leader can keep calm in a crisis, never lose their temper, communicate effectively, listen and make informed decisions.
A good leader shows self-confidence in all situations, even when they feel fear creeping in or uncomfortable.
Followers or employees can easily spot a lack of self-confidence, which can discourage their productivity ability.
After all, if you don’t believe in yourself, will you expect others to believe in you?
As an excellent leader, you must show confidence and assertiveness by rolling up your sleeves and taking charge.
True leaders don’t just talk about problems. Instead, they create solutions and execute them with confidence.
A good leader can empower their team to achieve the set goals and success.
Empowering your team includes letting them make decisions and exercise their expertise and decisions. This creates a sense of commitment and self-worth.
Empowerment indicates that you can listen, and you care about the opinion and input of your team members.
Empowerment creates a sense of togetherness and builds confidence among employees, which will lead your organisation to achieve maximum success.
A coachable leader demonstrates some unique characteristics like free-falling and being willing to learn from past mistakes.
Also, they embrace the unknown and take up new challenges.
Furthermore, a coachable leader regularly seeks feedback, responds maturely, reflects, experiments and acts accordingly to improve themselves.
By doing all this, a coachable leader will build greater trust and gain influence.
Resilience is the ability to sustain your energy under tremendous pressure and still bounce back up.
Resilient leaders can face adversities, setbacks, and trauma by coping with the challenges and emerging triumphant.
Resilience is not only about the brain but also the heart. It is the passion burning deep inside you that keeps you fueled up.
A resilient leader is hardworking, goal-oriented, and can persevere hardships to attain their goals.
Curiosity is a quality a good leader should possess as it distinguishes between an excellent leader and a less effective one.
Curious leaders make the best leaders as they understand the need to know more is healthy and a proper way to thrive.
Curious leaders pursue knowledge as they are not satisfied with what they know.
Instead, they hunger for more knowledge—guided by their need to learn and discover as curiosity is the gateway to a better tomorrow.
19. Inspiring (others)
Inspirational leadership is value-driven and encourages unity and collaboration.
An inspiring leader drives subjects to reach greater heights of performance, success, and excellence.
Leaders who inspire are utterly diverse in that they help develop inner resources, network, setting the tone, and guiding the team.
For a leader to be inspirational, they focus on their strengths which makes them stand out.
Note that inspiration comes from within, and it helps pull you towards a particular purpose by stirring your heart, mind, soul, and spirit.
Successful leaders are committed to bringing out the best in their followers or employees. Committed leaders possess the following characteristics.
First, they are willing to get their hands dirty by spending time out of the big office and working alongside their employees.
Secondly, the leader has a passion for making a difference, which is achieved by implementing a lean culture and introducing change to better the employees’ future.
Lastly, a committed leader has a good attitude demonstrated by their words, vision, and actions.
Delegation is the assignment of authority to employees or team members to perform specific tasks.
Leaders who exercise delegation get the jobs done and empower their employees by giving them greater autonomy.
A leader can’t complete all the tasks — they must practice delegation to reduce the workload.
Delegation plays a part in boosting team performance, output, cooperation, and efficiency.
It frees up time, encourages prioritisation of tasks, encourages employees, and supports new skill development.
A cooperative leader claims no special privileges as a boss and engages in the same activities as everyone else.
Such a leader has a very different leadership style as he sees himself as a facilitator of common goals. In this case, they seek both responsibility and reward.
A cooperative leader is effective in listening to other opinions and accepts feedback with minimal defensiveness.
They are also interested in learning how to perform at their best and have the company’s best interest at heart.
A humble leader can keep their ego in check and still command authority to lead the team to success.
It is easy to get carried away by the title, status, or position and step on your subordinates’ toes as a leader.
A good leader exercises humility which gives them a better grasp of the organisation’s needs.
This also helps make informed decisions by appreciating the strengths and contributions of others.
A strategic leader can influence others to voluntarily make decisions that enhance the probability of success in an organisation.
Strategy in leadership changes the trajectory of a group.
Strategic leaders must be skilled at identifying common ground and gaining support from stakeholders with opposing viewpoints and objectives.
Active outreach is required — proactive communication, establishing trust, and regular involvement are essential for success.
Oprah Winfrey, the television pioneer and business leader, acknowledges that authenticity in her production business contributed to her wealth. This is true for any business leader.
In fact, Oprah mentions that if she had an idea of how authenticity is vital in driving business success, she would have practised it a lot earlier.
An authentic leader is genuine, meaning not a copy, replica, or imitation.
When you are your true self in all your dealings, you exhibit your values, morals, principles, beliefs that make others look up to you.
As an authentic leader, do things your way without adopting the style or traits of other leaders.
Critical leaders can take charge of their thinking process by objectively analysing, dissecting their approach to decision-making and problem-solving.
Leaders who are critical thinkers can understand the impact of their decision on every level.
Critical leaders are bold enough to lead the organisation differently by ensuring their goals align and are accountable for the outcome.
Critical leaders use their cognitive skills to come up with strategies that will increase the probability of success.
A good leader is open-minded, meaning they can break out of the norm and find new innovative ideas.
An open-minded leader acknowledges their shortcomings, accepts they don’t have all the answers and is willing to entertain a different perspective.
By doing so, they impact productivity, drive professional growth, receive feedback, and gain new perspectives on issues.
When you are a fair, receptive, and open-minded leader, you are willing and ready to listen to other peoples’ opinions and be prepared to accept your wrong.
28. Agile / Flexible (to a degree necessary)
Agility is the ability to think, understand, move quickly, and stay alert. Agile leaders can demonstrate flexibility in a changing work dynamic.
Their ability to manoeuvre and think fast under challenging situations makes them successful under different elements.
An agile and flexible leader can change their decisions swiftly to match the current situation.
As an agile leader, you must embrace change, demonstrate growth, and lead through uncertainty and ambiguity, inspiring the team to strive for the best.
29. Always Improving
Finally, just as Bill Gates puts it, “It’s fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.”
A good leader always has the urge to continually better themselves, adapt and achieve greatness even amid failure.
Whatever a leader is working on, you must assess, evaluate and analyse whether you are better than before.
A continuously improving leader encourages him or herself and those loyal to them to work hard to achieve their goals and vision.
Great leaders incorporate self-improvement in their daily routine, as that makes them better industry leaders and mentors.
Outstanding leadership requires many different skills. Some may be more important than others.
It always depends on the situation, of course.
However, it is essential to be aware of those skills.
Some require diligent work and awareness. Other skills may need experience over time. It is hard always to manage a critical situation at the first occurrence.
After all, good leadership is nothing that happens overnight!