What Makes a Good Leader: 10 Best Leadership Qualities
What makes a good leader?
We wouldn’t overestimate saying that people have been trying to answer this question since ancient times.
Leadership qualities of kings, generals, presidents, revolutionary leaders and most effective CEOs have been carefully scrutinized to work out a perfect recipe for effective leadership. Still, in the modern times, it is not only the result that defines good leaders, but also how much their followers look up to them.
Having this understanding of what makes a good leader in mind, we take a look at 10 essential leadership qualities to strive for.
1. Honesty and Integrity
Good leaders are honest with others and with themselves and align what they do and preach with their core values. The ability to stick to the values and speak one’s mind avoiding politics delights, inspires and motivates. Integrity serves the foundation for trust and willingness of others to cooperate with a leader and follow his lead. At the same time, honest and consistent leaders nurture honesty and integrity in their teams by their own example.
These may be the reasons why the 34th US President, Dwight.D.Eisenhower, considered integrity a “supreme quality of leadership”.
Those who become great leaders own their vision so passionately that it soon becomes contagious. Passionate leaders know that where there is a will, there is a way, so no hurdles can stop them on their way. They are not afraid to roll up their sleeves and get dirty. They enjoy their work and take a genuine interest in it.
Such quality makes leaders a source of inspiration and helps them motivate the team. It helps a leader to paint a bright “big image” and explain a greater purpose that stands behind their ideas. Passion also gives leaders enthusiasm and energy to push further and achieve their best.
Leadership presupposes making decisions on a daily basis and committing to them. It also presupposes taking difficult decisions and making hard choices in times of change and crisis. Considering the great responsibility that is placed on a leader and risks that inevitably accompany every option, taking a decision may be a great act of courage. But a good leader is ready to stand up to this challenge.
What’s more, in the modern fast-paced world, the ability to take timely decisions and seize opportunities often determines business success. In this respect, staying indecisive means avoiding responsibility for the common goal and failing your team as a leader.
Confidence in oneself and others is another quality that makes a good leader. A healthy self-confidence gives the assertiveness a good leader needs to establish subordination and respect. In fact, it is hard to imagine a team that would commit to a certain vision, goal or decision if the leader displays a lack of confidence in it.
At the same time, delegating and showing confidence in others, a good leader builds the culture of confidence, achieves better performance, and improves workplace morale. If you feel that you need to work on this quality, here is how to use your strengths to build confidence.
5. Strategic Vision
Great leaders are outstanding strategists. They have the ability to look ahead and anticipate trends avoiding the situation when the goal loses its value when it’s eventually achieved. Strategic thinking allows leaders to set the right direction for their teams and win over their competitors.
While strategic vision comes naturally to some leaders, others work hard to develop this quality in themselves. Those who struggle with this quality should regularly revisit the purpose of their company, stay informed about the latest trends, and attract strategic thinkers to their teams (use this test to know if you already have a strategic thinker on your team and how to benefit from this strength).
6. Building a Team
Great leaders take time and effort to build a strong and effective team. They know and effectively manage the strengths of everyone on the team to reach common goals. They understand the stages of group development and take deliberate steps to overcome team dysfunctions.
Good leaders make everyone feel appreciated, while also providing clear feedback and holding everyone on the team accountable. Great leaders inspire and motivate people to grow even if this presupposes harming their own ego. The ability to be a good team builder also relies on the leader’s ability to recognize success as a team effort and, thus, share the due credits.
7. Great Communication Skills
Best leaders are good communicators continuously working on their ability to speak effectively and persuasively. Good leaders are not afraid to debate on difficult topics and have strong conflict resolution skills. Great speakers confidently present their companies and products, easily sell their vision to investors, clearly communicate goals and tasks, and even manage to win minds and hearts of their employees.
Still, communication skills are not only about speaking. Good leaders are good listeners, which makes them get quality feedback and achieve the commitment of the entire team. Leaders that have strong listening skills gain valuable knowledge about how to solve problems, improve products or services, and innovate.
Good leaders take primary responsibility for crises and failures, which often requires admitting leadership mistakes and omissions. Great leaders take responsibility not only for their own actions and decisions but also for the team and the entire company. More than that, they assume responsibility for the environmental hazard their production may pose and the families of their employees.
Such kind of responsibility is a great burden, not all are willing to take. Still, this is an essential quality that sets great leaders apart.
Humility is not a sign of weakness or a lack of confidence. On the contrary, it is a great quality that makes a good leader.
Clive Staples Lewis gives a great explanation of humility, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” Leaders’ ability to temper their ego lets them recognize problems and mistakes and take criticism as an opportunity to grow. Humble leaders don’t assume they know everything; they question their own beliefs and decisions and learn from people around them. It is humility that makes successful leaders appreciate and share credit with their team.
10. Positive Attitude
Good leaders stay positive and this positivity is visible through their actions. They maintain a focus on their past achievements rather than mistakes and failures. These leaders create a positive supporting working environment that makes their teams more productive. They never lose hope and motivate their team and followers even in the most discouraging moments.
Of course, the excess of positivity in the wrong situation may make the leaders ignore risks or misunderstand problems. This is why good readers know how to balance positive thinking staying both positive and alert.
Being a great leader requires constant self-reflection and personal growth. Take a moment to analyze what good leadership qualities you have and which you need to work on. The best way to find your strengths is to take a free strengths finder test with proven validity and reliability that is based on extensive strengths research. Only building upon your existing strengths can you develop into a great leader displaying all 10 essential leadership qualities.