The most essential skills and qualities that make you a good leader include active listening, self-control, integrity, confidence, empathy, resilience, passion, influence and inspire others.
There are other important qualities that define a good leader such as self-accountability – which means being responsible for your actions.
A good leader needs to lead by example and bring out positive qualities in others. They also need the fortitude and foresight to steer the success of a company or team.
No one is born as a good leader. The qualities of a good leader include a combination of inherent traits and learned skills.
While you may be born with specific traits that make it easier to lead others, you still need to develop skills to inspire others and get them to achieve specific goals.
Anyone can learn to lead. However, there is a major difference between a successful leader and an unsuccessful one.
A successful leader continuously learns new skills to improve themselves. Every day there is more to learn and keep improving your leadership qualities.
Skills and Qualities that Make You a Good Leader
While there are potentially dozens of traits and abilities that help you lead others, here in detail are 22 of the most essential skills and qualities of a good leader:
1. Honesty and Integrity
Senior business executives, and employees all tend to agree that integrity tops the list of leadership traits of a good leader. Your integrity refers to your honesty and moral principles.
Leaders with integrity are fair and consistent with their actions and the way they treat others.
Demonstrating integrity helps you build trust and credibility. People are more likely to respond positively to your requests, improving your ability to influence subordinates.
To show integrity, you should remain transparent and open with all your decisions. Provide honest input, criticism, and praise.
As employees tend to model their behavior on their superiors, showing integrity helps create an honest workforce. If you stay committed to honesty, others will follow your lead.
Empathy is your ability to understand and share other peoples’ feelings and emotions. People with a high level of empathy can easily sense emotions, which is useful when dealing with subordinates.
A good leader should know when an employee is being pushed too far or facing difficulties.
Empathy is an area where many leaders need improvement, which is something that leaders continually thrive for. The best practices of a good leader include continual changes to their actions.
Pay attention to the way you respond internally to other peoples’ comments or behavior. If you catch yourself evaluating others without empathy, correct yourself. Try to place yourself in their shoes to understand what they are going through.
Taking the time to empathize with others helps you understand the cause behind their difficulties. This is a necessary step for finding the most effective solutions for improving their performance.
Resiliency is one of the best traits of great leaders. Resilience is your ability to recover quickly from setbacks and failures. You will likely encounter many difficulties during your career.
If you cannot swiftly bounce back from the challenges that you face, you may fail to improve as a leader.
Resilient leaders are also better equipped for dealing with change. A successful leader should embrace change and use it as an opportunity for growth.
Developing resilience requires you to create goals and avoid dwelling on negative thinking. Remain positive and take steps each day to reach your objectives. When a setback occurs, analyze the cause, find a solution, and move on.
Your vision is your mental picture of the future. It is simply an idea of what may happen if things go as planned. However, your vision is also a clear path to your goals.
Leaders need to constantly look forward and point the company in the right direction. Having a clear vision helps you stay on track and prepare for difficulties.
The vision that you create gives you motivation and inspires you to keep going, which also improves your resiliency. When difficulties arise, you can use your vision to power through obstacles.
Minor delays or challenges are less likely to keep you from reaching your goals.
Along with keeping yourself motivated, having a vision keeps your employees motivated. Sharing your vision is what inspires others to follow your lead.
Leadership traits for a successful leader should include perspective. You need the ability to put everything in perspective and remain focused on the big picture.
When you can stay focused on the future, you are less likely to dwell on the past.
Successful leaders know that you cannot change things that already occurred. Instead of wasting time on the past, focus on the future and the things that you can control.
Perspective is what helps you achieve your vision. It also impacts your resiliency. You may find it difficult to recover from a setback if you are solely concerned with the outcome of the failure instead of looking for solutions.
Confidence is the best attitude of a good leader. As with integrity, you cannot expect people to follow you without confidence. If you seem unsure of your choices, others will start to doubt your decision-making abilities.
Confidence is your ability to remain certain about your choices and skills. Someone that is self-confident is likely to question their decisions. Developing greater self-confidence also helps create a stronger self-image.
Leaders with a positive self-image exude confidence, which is highly contagious. Your confidence gives others the confidence needed to excel in their jobs.
Exhibiting confidence is especially important when facing challenges. Without confidence, you may easily crumble under pressure.
Commitment helps inspire and attract others. It shows that you believe in your vision or the company’s vision, helping others commit to the same goals.
Showing your commitment also fosters a greater sense of trust and camaraderie. Your team is more likely to get along when they are all committed to the same outcomes. This leads to increased productivity.
When people are committed to an effort, they tend to provide more successful results. They can adapt easier to challenges, find creative solutions, and learn what they need to become more effective.
Leaders can demonstrate a commitment to their employees by becoming better listeners. Ask more questions and dedicate time to listening to the needs of your team.
Developing a stronger connection shows that you care about their thoughts and concerns, which are signs of a commitment to their interests.
Humility is one of the best characteristics of a good leader as it shows that you do not care about personal glory. Instead of taking all the credit for a successful project, you are more likely to share it with others or even step back and let others accept credit.
Humility requires several characteristics. You need to be self-aware. You also need to appreciate the contributions of others. However, one of the main characteristics of humility is your openness to feedback, criticism, and new ideas.
A humble leader is willing to admit mistakes, learn from others, and share credit where credit is due. There are many benefits to humility in the workplace. When you exhibit humility, you boost employee engagement and encourage others to remain humble.
Accountability is part of your integrity as a leader. If you are honest and fair, you also hold yourself accountable when things do not go as planned. Accountability is your liability and willingness to accept the blame for failures.
An accountable leader is willing to hold themselves responsible for the decisions of their team. If an employee makes a mistake, it is also your mistake.
Accountability builds trust with your team while providing additional benefits. By remaining accountable for your actions, you spend less time on distracting activities and unproductive behavior.
Your accountability forces you to value your time and the results of your efforts. When you demonstrate these attributes, your employees are more likely to highlight the same level of accountability.
Creativity is often overlooked as one of the best attributes of a good leader. However, creativity is essential for leaders. You need to constantly innovate and present new ideas, which requires creativity.
Having a creative mind also helps you think outside of the box. It is an important part of problem-solving and achieving goals.
Creative individuals tend to uncover ideas that others may overlook. This gives you an advantage in any industry, as it allows you to develop ideas that bring positive change to your company.
There are many ways to bring out your creative side. You could enrol in an art class, practice meditation, or surround yourself with creative individuals.
If you want to improve job performance and employee morale, you need to maintain control of your emotions and actions.
Many company chief executive officers and high-level executives consider self-control the foundation of a successful leader. To lead others, you need to first learn what it takes to lead yourself, which requires self-control and discipline.
The importance of self-control is a topic that philosophers and psychologists have explored for several thousand years. In the past couple of decades, hundreds of studies have been conducted on the subject.
Years of research have helped uncover the benefits of self-control. People that can demonstrate self-control are often healthier, happier, and more productive.
With self-control, you are less likely to engage in risky or unhealthy activities. Self-control also allows you to remain level-headed when dealing with workplace challenges.
Mindfulness is your ability to pay attention to everything without judgment, including your own actions. Good leaders can review their own performance and behavior subjectively without prejudice. They are mindful of the way they interact with others.
As with self-control, mindfulness can impact your ability to stay focused when things do not go as planned. Instead of calmly evaluating the situation and exploring potential solutions, you may focus on what you could have done differently.
Be mindful of the way you treat yourself, especially when failures or setbacks occur. Review the situation critically without casting blame.
Practice mindfulness in your daily interactions. Try to notice how your words and actions influence the behavior of others. The results of this critical analysis can go a long way toward improving your leadership skills.
Attentiveness and mindfulness share many characteristics. However, mindfulness helps you pay attention to your own actions. Attentiveness is your ability to detect small details all around you, including other peoples’ emotions.
Remaining attentive influences your communication skills and empathy. It makes you a better listener, which is an important trait for leaders.
The best leaders know when to stay quiet and listen instead of constantly talking over other people. This encourages open communication, letting team members know that they can come to you with their problems or concerns.
Trying to remain attentive to details may also help you uncover solutions that others may miss. To work on these skills, give others the time to speak and wait for them to finish their thoughts before providing your opinion.
Knowledge is one of the top characteristics of a good leader. If you do not know your industry or the required skills, you will struggle to steer the vision of your company or team.
Becoming a leader requires a variety of skills and aptitude for the roles assigned to you. After becoming a leader, it is important to continue expanding your knowledge.
There are many ways to remain knowledgeable in your field. You could take college courses, enroll in training programs, and keep up with the latest industry developments or trends.
Keep in mind that you are unlikely to become the most knowledgeable on every topic. Good leaders also know when to ask for advice and listen to the recommendations of others. They work with others and translate their knowledge into solutions that benefit the company.
As with commitment and vision, passion helps inspire others. When you are passionate about an idea or a project, others become more passionate. Your passion enhances productivity and keeps employees committed to your vision.
Passionate leaders are also highly engaged with their team members. They tend to work harder to achieve common goals, which energizes those around them.
There are several ways to become more passionate about your work. You should first understand your impact and value. Understanding your role and the value that you bring to the company helps you direct your passion. By analyzing the impact of your goals, you gain additional motivation to succeed.
Becoming more passionate also requires you to surround yourself with passionate individuals. Cultivate a team of positive people that embrace your passion and energy instead of workers that remain negative and drag others down.
Patience is another leadership trait that is often missing in today’s business world. Impatient leaders may not give teams adequate time to complete tasks, resulting in rushed work and poor performance.
Leaders need the patience to give employees the freedom required to excel at their duties.
Patience also helps you evaluate a situation thoroughly instead of making rushed judgments. You take stock of everything to fully explore all options before choosing a solution. This naturally improves your decision-making abilities.
If you lack patience, you can improve your self-restraint by forcing yourself to wait for things. Instead of eating dinner as soon as you get home, make yourself wait a half an hour. You should also limit unimportant activities and focus on essential tasks.
Taking deep relaxing breaths and being more mindful of things around you can also improve your overall patience.
Leaders are sometimes required to act as peacekeepers. They may need to resolve disputes between co-workers, which requires a certain level of diplomacy. Taking sides strengthens the bond with one employee while alienating the other.
Diplomacy is also necessary when acting as an intermediary between your team and upper management. For example, you may need to deliver bad news to your teams, such as budget cuts or changes to a deadline.
Instead of simply commiserating with your team, you need to remain diplomatic to avoid enhancing feelings of resentment against the company.
Improving your diplomatic skills requires mindfulness, attentiveness, and empathy. You need to empathize with both sides while understanding and addressing their concerns.
Delegation is the assignment of specific tasks. Leaders are often required to delegate responsibilities to employees. Successfully delegating tasks requires you to avoid playing favorites.
Delegation is one of the essential practices of a great leader. You are only as good as those that you work with. Cultivate a diverse team with an array of talents and delegate tasks based on their abilities.
To improve your delegation skills, learn to let go. While you may assume that you are the best person for a specific task, you need to trust the abilities of your employees or team members.
Select the right person by playing to their strengths. While this seems obvious, many leaders assign tasks based on who has the lightest workload or most convenient availability.
A good leader is always positive. Studies show that positivity influences other peoples’ behavior.
If you remain positive, your team is likely to remain positive. Positivity helps employees remain productive and reach their goals. This has even led to a style of leadership called “positive leadership.”
Positive leadership involves focusing on positive emotions. Instead of criticizing an employee for a mistake, a positive leader finds ways to encourage the employee to try other solutions to avoid making the same mistake.
Positive leaders also look for positive attributes in others. While every leader should know the strengths and weaknesses of their team members, positive leaders focus on the strengths. This tends to boost employee confidence and overall job performance.
20. Influence and Inspire others
Influence is perhaps one of the most important leadership skills and qualities of a good leader. Without influence, you cannot persuade people to follow your recommendations or requests.
Influence is the sum of the other qualities. When you have integrity, empathy, resilience, and the other traits discussed, your words and actions are more likely to influence others.
Along with directly influencing the performance of your subordinates, your behavior influences others’ behavior. You need to lead by example and demonstrate the qualities that you want others to possess.
If you are constantly argumentative and self-centered, your staff will become more independent and less focused on the company’s goals. Maintaining a positive example helps set the tone for the culture in your workplace.
21. Active Listening
Good leadership hinges on how well a leader listens and talks to people. It requires a good judgment regarding how much you talk and how much you listen. To understand others needs a healthy amount of listening.
Listening is an active process that requires you to pay your full attention to what others are saying. When you listen actively to others, it means you are being mindful and trying to understand what they are saying from their perspective.
The daily life of a leader is full of distractions. It can be very easy to lose focus and don’t pay attention to those in front of you.
Listening to others when they are talking to you is a sign of respect. And it is one the leadership qualities that allows you as a leader to build a deeper and better relationship with your employees.
A focus driven leader initiates proactive change not reactive one — it means bringing change in advance of a problem. When change is introduced that way, people in the organisation don’t even notice it because everything keeps running smoothly.
However, reactive change makes everybody in the company know that there is a problem they have to work out how to manage it.
Proactive leaders don’t wait for the people within the company to know there’s a problem. This is because many people don’t like change and they often create internal resistance to stop it.
The best leaders are constantly developing their abilities. You need to actively try to become better at inspiring and leading others.
If you want to develop more effective leadership skills and qualities, you need to listen to other people. Do not assume that you know the answers to everything. Rely on those around you to achieve goals.
Someone that can guide others to greater success is the best definition of a good leader. Good leaders have the humility to let other people excel instead of trying to become the focus of praise or admiration.
Effective and Successful leaders tend to look for the strengths in others instead of focusing on the weaknesses. They make use of their resources more efficiently to bring greater results.
Last, having the ability to look beyond the immediate moment to consider the consequences is one of the best qualities of a good leader.
Hope you have found this article useful. What qualities do you have that make you a good leader? Please leave your thoughts in the comment box below