15 Leadership Qualities: What Makes a Good Leader?

Whether you are working in a professional setting, in school, or at work one needs to have strong leadership qualities to help bring out the best in their group mates, team members, and employees. We are not born with these leadership qualities, rather we must obtain them through constant and never-ending improvement. So what makes a great leader? This article will discuss 15 vital leadership qualities and skills that can help you inspire others to succeed no matter the circumstances.

What Leadership Qualities Make a Good Leader?

Regardless of how you define the word leadership, it is impossible to deny that people such as Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., and Nelson Mandela greatly impact the lives of those around them. They were great leaders not because they could persuade people to do things they do not want to do, but rather because they inspired people to do things they never thought they could.

The United States’ 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, led the country through the Civil War. He worked hard and did his best to keep the people of the nation together and approved the Emancipation Proclamation, thereby freeing slaves in the US.

Martin Luther King, Jr. started with a dream; a vision for change and hope for a brighter tomorrow. He became an activist and a leader in the American civil rights movement. He fought for racial equality and showed his followers a vision of a brighter future where all people are treated equally.

These leaders were not born into their roles, they learned them. Just like them, you can learn these skills to help make a positive change in the lives of others.

These are the most important leadership qualities that make a great leader:

  • Communication
  • Integrity
  • Accountability
  • Empathy
  • Respect
  • Humility
  • Trust
  • Resilience
  • Vision
  • Influence
  • Positivity
  • Delegation
  • Confidence
  • Open-Minded
  • Growth Mindset

Communication

Communication means the ability to express oneself effectively and appropriately with peers, staff, parents, community members, etc. This skill is vital as it is the way that we as human beings interact with one another.

Communication can take on verbal, nonverbal and written forms. Verbal communication includes face-to-face conversations, phone calls, video conferencing, etc. Nonverbal communication is what we communicate through our body language, eye contact, and other nonverbal cues. Written communication includes emails, memos, letters, etc.

Great leaders are able to pay attention to the needs of their team through active communication and active listening. The more you work to genuinely show interest in the lives of others, the more people will be drawn to you and passionately speak about their lives. They’ll be inspired, feel heard, and begin to recognize you just like they would a friend.

Alternatively, if you don’t pay attention, don’t make eye contact, and act as if you’re not interested in other people’s personal stories, they will begin to cut you out and stop communicating with you when they have a problem.

Make sure you are constantly and effectively communicating with your team in order to be an effective leader.

Integrity

When we talk about integrity, we are talking about a leader’s ability to be honest and have strong moral principles. It means choosing to wake up every day and do the right thing regardless of who is around you. Without having integrity you cannot expect the people around you to be honest, open, and stick to their words.

People with integrity are typically known for being trustworthy, having a good moral compass, and being reliable. People trust them because they know that they will always do the right thing no matter what the circumstances are. Having integrity means:

  • Apologizing when you have made mistakes
  • Being thoughtful of others
  • Taking responsibility for one’s actions
  • Celebrating the success of others
  • Giving others the benefit of the doubt
  • Being grateful for the work of others

Leaders with integrity are typically respected by their peers and followers because they know that they can always count on them to do the right thing.

Accountability

Accountability is one of the most important leadership qualities because it shows that you are willing to take responsibility for your actions and the actions of your team. Leaders who are accountable are able to take ownership of their mistakes and learn from them.

Being accountable also means giving credit to others when they deserve it. It means lifting others up for their successes and inspiring them to continue doing good.

People who are accountable typically have these qualities:

  • They are reliable
  • They follow through on their commitments
  • They hold themselves and others to their words
  • They take responsibility for their actions

Empathy

Empathy is the ability to see things from another person’s perspective and understand their feelings. Being empathetic means truly taking the time to understand the motivations of those around you and form genuine connections with them. It is a vital leadership quality because it allows leaders to understand the needs of their followers and build strong relationships with them.

Being empathetic means:

  • You take the time to genuinely listen to what others have to say
  • You put your hand out to assist those who are hurting
  • You care about others a lot

Knowing where people are coming from allows for a more human environment, in which team members are more productive and leaders excel.

Emotional intelligence is a leadership quality that can provide tremendous value.

Respect

Respect is a leadership quality that is earned through trust and mutual understanding. It is the foundation of any strong relationship.

Having respect for those around you means recognizing their inherent value and worth, and treating them with a high level of dignity through our words, actions, and behaviours. Oftentimes, leaders demand this type of respect without giving it themselves. Respect is a two-way street.

As an effective leader, it is your responsibility to create a community where each person values the work of others.

Humility

As a leader, you must be humble and vulnerable with the rest of your team. It is important to realize that you are not the only one with knowledge and skill. Leaders who are humble listen to the ideas of others, value feedback, and embrace collaboration.

Being humble also means being able to admit when you are wrong and apologize for your mistakes. The truth is that you will experience failure at least once, if not multiple times. It’s how we react to failure that defines who we are. Leaders who can do this are able to gain the trust and respect of those around them.

At the end of the day, leaders should not care about how they look, but rather how the team looks as a collective. A good leader will never be effective if they put their own interests before the well-being of their team.

Resilience

Resilience is the ability to bounce back from difficult situations. Leaders who are resilient are able to take on challenges and setbacks without letting them get in the way of their success.

When the going gets tough the tough get going. Leaders have to show by example that they are willing to fight no matter the circumstances to find solutions to their problems.

It is important for leaders to be resilient because they will face many challenges throughout their careers. If they are not able to overcome these challenges, they will not be successful.

Vision

A vision is a leadership quality that is often overlooked but is essential for success. Leaders with a vision are able to see the big picture and have a clear idea of where they want to go.

People do not buy what you do, they buy why you do it. Samuel Pierpoint Langley set out, with the backing of the brightest mathematicians and tremendous funding, to be the first man to pilot an airplane. Yet they didn’t succeed.

Hundreds of miles away two brothers set out with an intense mission that inspired the enthusiasm of those around them. With no money, no grants, and no high-level education the Wright Brothers made their vision a reality. They succeeded because they were truly able to inspire their team to develop a technology that they believed would change the world.

True leaders use their vision to inspire loyalty and commitment while they guide their teams to achieve great things. Leaders without a vision are more likely to get lost along the way and not be as successful. So understand your why.

Influence

A leadership quality that is often underrated is influence. Leaders who are influential are able to get others to buy into their vision and follow them willingly.

An influential leader is not a dictator who tells people what to do, but rather someone who persuades and motivates others to take action. They are able to build relationships and trust with those around them. To be influential one must:

  • be authentic
  • be competent
  • be confident
  • be passionate

Leaders who are influential are able to get their teams to see things from their perspective and achieve things they never thought possible. So if you want to be a successful leader, start by working on your influence.

Positivity

A leadership quality that is often overlooked is positivity. Leaders who are positive are able to see the good in every situation and use it to motivate their team.

Positivity is not only about being happy all the time, it is about having a positive outlook on life and being able to find the silver lining in every situation. Leaders who are positive are able to bring out the best in those around them.

A positive leader is someone who people want to be around. They are able to make the people they work with feel good about themselves and their work. Workplaces will undoubtedly be stressful at times, but a leader is able to persevere without placing blame on others. So if you want to be a successful leader, start by working on your positivity.

Delegation

One leadership quality that is essential for success is delegation. Leaders who are able to delegate are able to get more done in less time.

Delegation is not about giving someone else your work, it is about trusting someone else to do the job and knowing they will do it well. Leaders who delegate are able to focus on their own work and the bigger picture.

Delegation necessitates that leaders inspire the thoughts and ideas of others in order to achieve a common goal. They give their team everything they need to succeed and get out of the way, not directing their path but instead setting clear expectations and explaining where the goal is.

Delegation is a difficult leadership quality to master, but it is essential for those who want to be successful. If you want to be a successful leader, start by delegating more and trusting your team to get the job done.

Confidence

Leaders who are confident are able to inspire those around them and instill a sense of trust.

Confidence is not about being the loudest person in the room, it is about having a quiet assurance that you know what you’re doing. Leaders who are confident are able to exude an air of calm and collectedness, even in the most difficult situations.

Confidence is something that must be earned over time. It is built through experience and knowledge. Leaders who are confident have usually failed before and learned from their mistakes. So if you want to be a successful leader, start by building your confidence.

If you’re having difficulty building confidence remember that it all starts with yourself. The more you believe in yourself, the more capable you will be of handling any stressful event.

Open-Mindedness

A leadership quality that is essential for success is open-mindedness. Leaders who are open-minded are able to see things from multiple perspectives and make decisions based on what is best for the team, not just what they want.

Open-mindedness is not about agreeing with everyone, it is about being willing to listen to other people’s ideas and perspectives. Leaders who are open-minded are able to have difficult conversations and make decisions that may not be popular but are in the best interest of the team.

Being open-minded means:

  • Working with another person and a group no to hear other perspectives
  • Identifying individual and group strengths and potential areas of growth
  • Dividing responsibility according to strengths
  • Teaching each other and learning from each other
  • Giving and receiving constructive feedback
  • Dealing with conflict

Open-mindedness is a leadership quality that can be difficult to maintain, especially when you are under pressure. It is important to remember that there is always more than one way to solve a problem and that other people may have ideas that are better than yours. So if you want to be a successful leader, start by working on your open-mindedness.

Growth Mindset

Leaders who have a growth mindset are always looking for ways to improve and learn new things. They are not afraid of change or challenges, instead, they see them as opportunities to grow.

Leaders with a growth mindset:

  • Are always learning
  • Embrace change (Amor Fati)
  • See mistakes as opportunities to learn
  • Are open to feedback
  • Are willing to take risks

Leaders with a growth mindset are able to create an environment of learning and growth for those around them. They are always looking for ways to improve and make things better. So if you want to be a successful leader, start by developing a growth mindset.


What Leadership Qualities Make a Bad Leader?

There are a few leadership qualities that make a bad leader. These leadership qualities include:

  • Being dictatorial
  • Being Closed-minded
  • Having a fixed mindset
  • Failing to set clear goals
  • Praising others to easily
  • Not leading by example
  • Failing to take decisive actions
  • Lacking empathy

Being Dictatorial

Dictatorial leaders are those who try to control everything and everyone around them. They micromanage and don’t allow others to have any input or ownership in what’s going on. This leadership style is not effective because it stifles creativity and innovation.

Being Closed-minded

As we discussed earlier, open-mindedness is a key leadership quality for success. Closed-minded leaders are the opposite. They are not willing to listen to others or consider new ideas. This leadership style is not effective because it limits growth and learning.

Having a Fixed Mindset

A fixed mindset is a belief that things are set in stone and cannot be changed. This leadership quality is not effective because it leads to a lack of growth and learning.

Failing to Set Clear Goals

Leaders who fail to set clear goals are not able to provide direction or motivate their team. This leadership quality is not effective because it leads to a lack of focus and direction.

Praising Others Too Easily

Leaders who praise others too easily are not able to provide constructive feedback. This leadership quality is not effective because it leads to a lack of development and growth.

Not Leading by Example

Leaders who do not lead by example are not able to gain the trust and respect of their team. This leadership quality is not effective because it leads to a lack of credibility.

Failing to Take Decisive Actions

Leaders who fail to take decisive actions are not able to make tough decisions. This leadership quality is not effective because it leads to a lack of progress.

Lacking Empathy

Leaders who lack empathy are not able to connect with others. This leadership quality is not effective because it leads to a lack of trust and respect.

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