List of 32 Leadership Qualities That Define Great Leaders
The success of a company depends on the leadership qualities of the people at the head of projects and management. Those who have the responsibility of leading work teams require leadership qualities.
But what exactly is a leader? Is he or she just a good manager? Being a leader is not just a title, nor the function of giving orders. It is a set of behaviors and attitudes that, in the end, make everyone want to follow the leader to achieve a specific goal.
Starting from this point, not all of us have been led by good leaders. While some are natural leaders, others need to work hard to develop their leadership. They must do this to become more than just a great leader.
Here we will explain what qualities and skills characterize a good leader and how to learn and develop these skills if you want to improve as a leader.
What is Leadership and What Are the Leadership Qualities that Make a Great Leader?
Chiavenato (1993) said that leadership “is a process in which the leader exercises the ability to influence and lead a group of people, motivating them to work with enthusiasm towards the fulfillment of the organization’s objectives”.
This process is only possible through certain leadership strengths and attitudes that only a leader possesses. There is a great variety of leadership styles, but all leaders share the same qualities.
Among the most important qualities of a great leader we can find:
- Good listener
- Strong communicator
- Fast and agile learner
- Strategic thinker
- Emotional intelligence
- Problem-solving skills
- Ability to make decisions
- Ability to delegate
- Execution skills
- Fair attitude
- Responsible and accountable
Leadership Qualities and Skills List with Explanations
“Image is what people think we are; integrity is what we really are.” – John C. Maxwell
People of integrity are those who provide a clear and credible vision. Those whose lives conform to a set of values that inspire confidence in others.
They can identify themselves as having only one way of thinking. This leadership characteristic is what identifies an authentic leader. What people need from a good leader is not a slogan that says something, it is a model that is seen.
The more credibility a leader has, the more confidence people will have in him. And we all know that the fundamental basis of leadership derives from the trust of the people who are willing to follow a leader.
Honesty and Transparency
“We believe that transparency is needed to create trust, and it’s also needed to create a
dialogue.” – Julie Sweet
The key for a company to start being transparent lies in its leaders. They can create a healthy and positive environment. Besides generating security, trust and promoting the commitment of those who follow them.
This is reflected in the company’s productivity and bottom line. A good leader is sincere and transparent. He is not afraid of the truth, does not hide or lie.
He says things with sincerity but also cares about others. This quality favors his credibility, generating trust. On the contrary, a leader who hides information and is unclear generates dissatisfaction and anxiety among workers.
Innovative and Creative
“Innovation comes from creativity and creativity comes from imagination.” – Sir Ken Robinson
Creative or innovative leadership is being able to unleash the collective genius of the team. It is not about finding creative geniuses.
But about achieving extraordinary results with the sum of ordinary people. A good leader does not need to be the person with the best ideas.
What he or she really needs is to be able to create the necessary conditions for the team’s creativity and innovation to flourish naturally in the work environment. An innovative leader is recognized for being able to create a culture where it is “allowed” to imagine.
“One of my beliefs about leadership is it’s not how many followers you have, but how many people you have with different opinions that you can bring together and try to be a good listener.” —Robert Kraft
Every relationship, good or bad, has a direct impact on people. This is because good relationships produce influence. Being a good leader implies closeness, humility, and trust with the people you lead.
To achieve all this, it is necessary to be a good listener. Listening goes beyond hearing. It is about understanding, knowing, and interpreting the reality of the members of the work team.
A leader knows how to listen. This to have the advantage of understanding more quickly a situation of change. Asides to identify the will of the interlocutors and even to anticipate the result of the interpretation of the details.
“Believe in yourself and there will come a day when others will have no choice but to believe in you.” —Cynthia Kersey.
Self-confidence is the cornerstone of leadership. A leader may be technically qualified to exercise his position. But a lack of self-confidence will make it very difficult for him to manage people.
Therefore, this leadership quality is essential in a good leader. Even if a leader knows how to solve problems effectively, has a good level of communication, or has an impeccable way of training the members of his teams and/or departments, it will be of no use to him if he lacks sufficient self-confidence to carry out all the actions he is supposed to perform in his position.
If you do not have the necessary self-confidence, you will not be able to lead others. Much less make decisions or alleviate the uncertainty that would be reflected in the performance of the work team.
Visionary and Able to Visual the Goal
“When the world is in the midst of change, when adversity and opportunity are almost indistinguishable, this is the time for visionary leadership and when leaders need to look beyond the survival needs of those they’re serving.” – Chip Conley
A visionary leader can visualize and maintain a long-term goal where they will effectively lead their team. Through their vision they know how to anticipate problems and propose solutions proactively in any case.
They also take the necessary risks to reach the goal. By inviting the most talented people to work with them through motivation. A leader who lacks vision will not have long-term goals.
He or she will demonstrate to his team his lack of ability to maintain strategies and objectives in a determined time frame. He will do this by proposing improvised solutions and lacking a plan for growth and improvement for both the company and the team.
“The art of communication is the language of leadership.” – James Humes
A great leader must be a great communicator. Because it is through communication that people are inspired and leadership is built. Leaders have the ability to create a real, emotional, and personal connection with the people who follow them.
If a leader does not communicate correctly, his vision will not materialize. It is useless to have a huge vision if you cannot inspire and motivate others to work towards fulfilling the objectives of that great vision.
That is why this leadership quality is indispensable to be a true leader. Especially when it comes to building trust in team members.
“The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been.” – Henry Kissinger
A leader’s ability to lead others and lead them towards a true objective lies in how capable they are of persuading, convincing and influencing the ideas, opinions and belief systems of others.
The key to dealing well with people and helping them improve personally is in the ability to influence them. We should not confuse influence with manipulation. There is a big difference between influencing someone’s life to improve their performance and personal growth.
That contrasts with influencing them to do what the leader wants for no positive purpose. This difference is what distinguishes a good leader from a bad leader.
Ability to Delegate
“To scale your business, you need to delegate responsibilities to others and establish a strong company culture.” – Huda Kattan
A leader needs to have the ability to delegate responsibilities. Otherwise, his productivity will be affected. He or she will not dedicate enough time to the tasks required by his position.
Nor will the people in his team develop efficiently. Because he will be busy doing the tasks that should be done by others. A great leader is not afraid of the success of team members.
On the contrary, they are proud of their ability to make them shine. By putting their skills to work and maximizing the team’s productivity and performance.
“Be willing to make decisions. That’s the most important quality in a good leader. Don’t fall victim to what I call the ‘ready-aim-aim-aim-aim syndrome’. You must be willing to fire.” – T. Boone Pickens
Decision-making is a great responsibility that can only be assumed by great leaders. When making decisions, leaders must also take responsibility for the consequences of each decision, whether positive or negative.
A good leader is decisive. Through this leadership quality, he transmits confidence and trust to the rest of his team and the company.
They know that they are in front of a person who knows how to help everyone. Being precise, evaluating all aspects of a problem and taking responsibility for their decisions.
“Leaders are problem solvers by talent and temperament, and by choice[…]” – Harlan Cleveland
The ability to solve problems is another essential leadership quality in good leaders. All those at the head of an organization or team recognize that leadership is not just about delegating responsibilities and giving orders.
Being a leader also involves taking responsibility for problem-solving. As well as proposing solutions to the team to improve its performance.
A good leader analyzes, identifies and communicates with his team to solve problems effectively. Transmitting security and the certainty that everything will go well despite the circumstances.
“A really great talent finds its happiness in execution.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Execution skills enable leaders to materialize their vision and strategies. This ability to make things happen is almost magical. This allows them to be followed for the success that their actions reflect.
As a leader, it is necessary to direct, execute and lead. But the main objective must be to empower others to make decisions and take action.
For results, as obvious as it may seem, never reside in the skills of a single person. But are always associated with the results of a team. That is why execution also requires coaching and mentoring, performance monitoring, planning and organization.
“A leader’s attitude is caught by his or her followers more quickly than his or her actions.” – John C. Maxwell
Like everyone else, leaders also have personal biases. However, what differentiates a good leader from others is his or her ability to reason and act impartially.
Without being swayed by them. Leaders are aware of the strengths and weaknesses of each team member. Asides to be fair to everyone in the work area. A good leader chooses to focus on these strengths through a strengths-based approach.
As well as remains open to helping improve each member’s weaknesses in their development. They focus on keeping their biases out of the workplace. By promoting a positive work environment where everyone can improve.
“Curiosity about life in all aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people.” – Leo Burnett
Great leaders are inquisitive and curious about life. They are always open-minded to expand their interests and knowledge. They are attracted to anything that makes them reflect and learn new things.
Their experience and the way they communicate it to their followers is motivating and positive. This quality allows them to remain open to reflection from a positive point of view when any problem arises. While projecting a rational attitude to the rest of the team.
“How we think shows through in how we act. Attitudes are mirrors of the mind. They reflect thinking.” – David Joseph Schwartz
A good leader is aware that he or she is a role model and remains self-motivated. Is committed to oneself and to improving every day. Knowing that many people are following in his footsteps.
By their example, they motivate others to be better and stay self-motivated too. They lift the spirits of team members when things are not going well. While encouraging them to be resilient through positive reinforcement.
“A true leader is one who is humble enough to admit their mistakes.” – John C. Maxwell
A persistent and courageous leader who constantly learns and is willing to admit mistakes is humble. This leadership quality allows them to recognize their failures or flaws.
Showing their followers that they also have weaknesses. Without forgetting that what is really important is to recognize them. As well as to move forward to improve them.
Although it is not the first trait we think of when we talk about leadership, it is quality as necessary as others when leading people. Humility consists of working for the common good. Always seeking to learn and give much more of oneself.
“The best leaders have a high consideration factor. They really care about their people.” – Brian Tracy
Caring is the heart of leadership. When you lead someone from care and are interested in getting to know them, you accept who they are. Worrying about guiding them towards their personal evolution.
Some leaders genuinely care about their subordinates. This is what real leaders do. They are wholeheartedly committed to their team members.
Although not everyone can develop that commitment, this quality makes a leader much more influential and important than others.
“The only discipline that lasts is self-discipline.” – Bum Philips
Self-discipline means taking control of everything you do. Great leaders know that they are in control of their lives. That is why they make decisions that lead to constant improvement. Self-discipline is a process that must be developed.
Through which other team members are motivated to practice it with themselves. This to improve their productivity and achieve success. It is knowing that what you want to become tomorrow, you are becoming now and taking action on it.
“Emotional intelligence is the ability to sense, understand, and effectively apply the power and acumen of emotions as a source of human energy, information, connection, and influence.” – Robert K. Cooper
There is no doubt that to become a great leader one must have a high level of emotional intelligence. This special and complex intelligence consists of understanding and managing one’s emotions. So that they do not interfere with professional objectives.
This is achieved by understanding how each emotion interacts with each personal weakness daily. To be able to control them. If a leader is not emotionally intelligent, he will not be able to motivate his team or keep them happy at work.
This will have negative effects on performance and productivity that can only be changed by becoming emotionally educated.
Passionate and Dedicated
“Passion will move men beyond themselves, beyond their shortcomings, beyond their failures.” – Joseph Campbell
A leader has a burning passion for his work. He knows how to demonstrate that passion and dedication at all times. By inspiring the rest of the team with it. This leadership strength also makes him work hand in hand with the team members.
Regardless of his actual core managerial duties as a leader. He loves what he does, so he doesn’t mind being like one of his subordinates. So he teaches them by passion and example how things are done.
“Resilience or hardiness is the ability to adapt to new circumstances when life presents the unpredictable.” – Salvatore R. Maddi
This leadership characteristic is formed with time and experience. You know you are dealing with a good leader when he or she keeps moving forward and working with enthusiasm, even when the going gets tough.
A leader is valued for his or her ability to continue to lead a team. Keeping it motivated despite negative circumstances that may arise. He influences them through enthusiasm and positivity to overcome problems and focus on solutions.
Responsible and Accountable
“Leaders inspire accountability through their ability to accept responsibility before they place blame.” – Courtney Lynch.
Great leaders take accountability for all their decisions and their results. Owning up to mistakes is no easy task. But leaders dare to assume them. As well as to ask for help when they need it.
And to give feedback to each team member honestly and constructively. Not from negative reinforcement as many bosses do. Responsible leaders are committed to both the good and the bad of their management.
They take responsibility for all actions and decisions that affect their team. Asides to strive to improve their weaknesses.
“A good objective of leadership is to help those who are doing poorly to do well and to help those who are doing well to do even better.” – Jim Rohn
True leaders support throughout every process. They understand each team member and are responsive and flexible to any mistakes. They will be there to oversee tasks, guide members to improve and correct failures.
They transfer their knowledge and experience to others as an example. Motivating them to be better every day and in everything they do. This creates an environment of trust and support that fosters camaraderie and commitment within the workplace.
This plays a fundamental role. Because knowing that they have the support of a great leader during a difficult moment reinforces the resilience of the team members.
“I think if you aren’t a tech company or you’re not on the way to becoming one, you’re in big trouble.” – Maile Carnegie
Amid the digital era, leaders need to become experts in new technologies. Like many businesses today are digital, the decisions a leader must make revolve around technology.
Being a technology expert will allow you to make the right decisions. In addition to guiding your team in the practices and application of these to achieve success.
Not to mention the advantages it can bring to innovate, delegate and implement technological improvements in the work environment. This would generate more confidence in the team members. As well as productivity and development.
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” – Leo Buscaglia
When you work with an empathetic leader, you don’t forget. His or her ability to listen calmly, devoting the necessary time and full attention, has a profound impact. A good leader manages to make each person feel unique.
While making her part of a team united through empathy. Taking a genuine interest in the other person’s reality is the key to creating quality relationships. It involves being open to understanding how the other person sees the world.
Trying to understand them without having to agree with them. This allows a leader to understand their attitudes, their feelings, their fears, and to respond appropriately to them.
With empathy, we can really understand the other person. Allowing us to build bridges to create solid relationships and find solutions to possible conflicts.
“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” – John F. Kennedy
No matter how much a leader anticipates events to solve problems, the future is unpredictable. The ability to learn is what allows a leader to adapt to new situations.
Keeping the team motivated in turbulent times. While giving team members more confidence by taking uncertainty out of the equation. This will be reflected in the team’s productivity, performance and adaptability to a new work trend.
“My job as a leader is to make sure that everybody in the company has great opportunities and they feel they are having a meaningful impact to the good of society.” – -Larry Page
Empowerment is motivating the team to make decisions and develop solutions on their own. It is to make them see how capable they are and how valuable they are to the organization.
Leaders know this art very well. They are experts at showing members their talents and skills through strengths-based leadership. The goal is to achieve success and exploit everyone’s potential.
A good leader is in charge of guiding and motivating others through this leadership quality. Committing himself to the strengthening of the team. Encouraging each one of them to improve and develop.
“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.” – Brené Brown
Making decisions, expressing ideas and even giving orders takes a lot of courage. That’s why this is one of the innate leadership qualities of a leader. Courage stems from self-confidence and determination.
That is why it is more than evident that a person who lacks courage and confidence in his pulse will not be able to lead a team successfully. Courage is what allows you to face conflicts. By assuming the consequences of every action you take as a leader.
“Every human being, of whatever origin, of whatever station, deserves respect. We must each respect others even as we respect ourselves.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Leadership is not only based on functions but also on attitudes and values. Respect is the most valuable leadership characteristic in a leader.
The respectful leader listens to others, accepts different opinions and points of view, avoids prejudices and silences his ego.
No matter how recognized a leader is, if he does not respect his team members, he will be unable to be a role model. Much less to create trust, good relationships and the motivation necessary to achieve objectives.
“You don’t earn loyalty in a day. You earn loyalty day-by-day.” – Jeffrey Gitomer
Loyalty is reciprocal. If subordinates see that their leader is loyal to them, they will reciprocate in kind. A loyal leader acts honestly and fairly. He can lead and represent his team in times of crisis or conflict.
He also stands up for his team and makes sure to fight to ensure that everyone has the same resources and opportunities to thrive within the work environment. This ensures everyone’s performance and development. And so they will reciprocate with the same.
“A business is not being competitive if it undertakes the same activities and grows at the same pace as its competitors. It must create something new, and this is why strategic intuition is needed.” – Paul A. Sacco
Leaders who think strategically identify connections, patterns, and key issues for improvement. Leadership requires thinking, acting and influencing others in ways that promote lasting organizational success.
This is achieved by having a broad strategic vision and involving the most talented people in the project. Strategic thinking evaluates the environment and the internal situation of the company.
By pushing the leader to develop strategies for the growth of the team. As well as to improve productivity and achieve the objectives set.
“Charisma is the result of effective leadership, not the other way around.” – Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus
Charisma is the leadership strength that generates enthusiasm in the members of the work team. People follow who they like, and it is the charisma that makes a leader acclaimed. A good leader stands out for his ability to seduce and admire.
This leader can give very good results and changes. Since he or she can make the workers give their best.
The group rallies around the leader because of their great communication skills and charisma. They can change even the needs, values, objectives, or aspirations of the workers thanks to their influence.
How To Improve Leadership Qualities and Skills?
Every leader should develop certain skills that can help him/her to manage a team. As we have already seen, leadership skills are qualities that allow the individual to make better decisions.
As well as to allocate available resources more efficiently. To plan successfully and even to manage people through motivation, enthusiasm and commitment.
It is natural to wonder how to develop these qualities or skills. For this reason, we recommend a few things for you to develop the essential skills of a good leader.
Self-knowledge is a key to success
If you want to become a good leader, the first thing you must do is to know yourself. These include knowing how you are, your capabilities, your strengths and your weaknesses.
This fundamental step will help you discover what aspects you need to work on, what skills you need to acquire or enhance to improve and become the leader you want to be through strengths-based leadership.
Have a positive attitude
Can you imagine a leader who gives up at the first attempt? Who does not believe he can achieve his goals? Being optimistic is essential to overcome daily challenges.
If you add to this attitude enthusiasm and passion for your work, you will be able to infect those around you with your spirit to work together for the same goal.
Enhance your communication skills
Communication is key for your purposes to be effective. It is as important to know how to speak as it is to know how to listen. Train your capacity for active listening, your oratory skills and rehearse exercises to practice assertiveness.
Trust your team
Trusting your team will not only make each individual in your team feel valued. It will also make them feel more involved in the activity they perform.
This trust means listening to all their opinions and taking them into account. Encouraging and empowering their participation in the workgroup, to improve processes and achieve the organization’s goals.
Strengthens your ability to solve problems and make decisions
Your decision-making skills, your ability to negotiate, your conflict resolution skills, your ability to prioritize and your talent for finding creative solutions are qualities that your followers expect from you.
Being endowed with these capabilities will make you stand out as a leader. All these skills can be trained and enhanced through different programs and improve with practice.
Frequently Asked Questions About Leadership Qualities
What are the 5 qualities and skills of a good leader?
The most outstanding are integrity, positive attitude, great communication skills, self-confidence, great decision maker and problem solver.
Can leadership qualities be developed or learned?
Yes, some leadership qualities can be developed with discipline and consistency. However, there are other qualities that lie in the personality of the leader.
As we said at the outset, leaders play a critical role within the organization. The performance and motivation of employees depend on them. Each of these qualities is necessary to achieve great leadership.
Without them, the members of the organization would not be able to achieve their work and personal goals, as well as those of the organization. Therefore, developing these skills and characteristics through the strengths-based approach can turn a company’s management around.
Allowing to create a productive, positive environment and people willing to improve every day.
Now that you know how to identify a true leader and how to develop these leadership qualities, we encourage you to start being the change factor and make a difference. By motivating others and empowering the leader within you.
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