So, what are the top qualities of a good leader? Over the years, as human beings evolved, so has the type of society we live in. In the beginning, the man was a solitary creature. Then came living in small groups, the first sign of something like a community.
As communities grew, there was a need for someone to be responsible, keep the peace, make decisions, and ensure everyone’s needs were met. And thus came the existence of what we now call a ‘leader’.
Every type of community or group has some leader. It can be the head of a family (or directors of a family, for that matter!), a village or town leader, a workplace leader, who is the boss, and so many more.
As we grow more and more as a society, different walks of life and scenarios call for some or the other type of leader. If we were to take a workplace, for instance, in today’s corporate culture, there are various levels of leaders.
Table of Contents
- What is Leadership?
- Qualities of a Good Leader
- #1 Integrity
- #2 Communication
- #3 Active Listening
- #4 Self-Confidence
- #5 Delegation
- #6 Decision-Making and Problem-Solving Skills
- #7 Self Motivation
- #8 Emotional Intelligence
- #9 Cognitive flexibility
- #10 Advocacy
- #11 Expertise
- #12 Honesty
- #13 Gratitude
- #14 Deliberation
- #15 Empowerment
- #16 Certainty
- #17 Confidence
- #18 Accountability
- The Bottom Line
|What is the ancient word for “leader”?
|Anax (an ancient Greek word).
|When was the term “leader” first used?
There is the team leader, who leads a team of 7-8 people. Then comes a manager who handles 4-5 units under him. And then comes the CEO, to whom all the managers report. While the number of levels and people in between may change from one workplace to another, the overall structure more or less remains the same.
The political structure and the government are also formed of various types of individuals with leadership positions. Some exceptional leaders of our time are Steve Jobs, Warren Buffet, Gandhi, and even Elon Musk.
This leads, pun unintended, us to the question – what are the qualities an individual must possess to become a leader?
You must have heard of the phrase ‘born leader’ being used about someone who displays extraordinary leadership skills. So, does that mean leaders are only those born with certain traits? Some research studies beg to differ!
There have been papers published by researchers that propound doesn’t always have to be innate; it can also be learned! An individual can learn or develop leadership qualities through observation and experimentation.
But before we get into the range of qualities that make up a leader, we must all be on the same page regarding what leadership exactly is.
What is Leadership?
Googling the term leadership gives us myriad definitions and explanations by great minds and leaders from around the world, spanning different eras. John Maxwell defines leadership as an influence – nothing more, nothing less.
After going through several meanings, and working closely with some of the best people with exceptional leadership qualities, my understanding of good leadership is influencing or convincing a group of people to believe and act with resolve towards a greater good.
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Qualities of a Good Leader
So, what are some qualities of a good leader? As an isolated person or a team member, take a minute to think about the things that make you trust and believe in a leader. If I had to answer that question, I would say that someone patient, knowledgeable, non-judgmental, and great at communication is ideal for a leadership role.
While the nitty-gritty of these may vary from person to person, the core characteristics of a good leader can broadly be dissected into some specific qualities.
Here is a list of traits that any person can learn and develop and get on their way to becoming a well-rounded and respected leader:
#1 Integrity – Qualities of a Good Leader
Integrity is one of those values that is important for every human being to possess. As a leader, it boosts your leadership. Everyone respects a leader who inspires with his principles without compromising them. Someone who does not make false promises refuses to take shortcuts and instead focuses on being as ethical and morally grounded as possible is a candidate for good leadership.
#2 Communication – Qualities of a Good Leader
Communication is one of the best qualities of a leader. Effective communication leads to effective leadership. The mode of communication only sometimes matters as long as the leader is skilled at it.
A leader is someone that his/her team members look up to, seek advice from, and trust to guide them in the right way. For this, you require fine communication skills. The quality and effectiveness of communication have an immense impact on a team’s performance and, consequently, the business’s success.
Good leadership communication skills are significant, including verbal and non-verbal communication. It is not only passing information to others but how to convey it in an inspiring way so that each employee can accept or believe it.
It can be active listening, body language and public speaking and more. The art of communication can lie in how leaders compliment, reward or punish subordinates for the tasks they complete.
#3 Active Listening – Qualities of a Good Leader
As mentioned previously, leaders are looked up to, admired, and respected. They are expected to give advice, guide, and support their team. As a result, understanding what your team members are trying to tell you is extremely important. Actively listening allows leaders to build trust and relationships in the long run.
True leaders display an abundance of self-confidence. Please note that this is not to be mistaken with arrogance or pride. Those can prove to be your downfall as a leader! Self-confidence is related more to self-assurance and self-esteem. It is a leader’s belief and faith in themselves and their team to achieve their goals together. Confidence also allows leaders to take prompt decisions, solve conflicts or problems in the organisation, and take action without procrastination.
#5 Delegation – Qualities of a Good Leader
Being a responsible leader does not mean you have to take on every task by yourself. A good leader understands delegation’s importance and uses it efficiently. It contributes towards maximizing the productivity and performance of the team. The ability to delegate is accompanied by the skill to recognize the skills and expertise of your team members and delegate tasks in a mindful manner.
#6 Decision-Making and Problem-Solving Skills
Good leaders are decisive and transparent in their thought processes. They are aware of the consequences of their decisions and ensure they are made carefully. While the findings are well thought out, they are done so without compromising on time.
Decisive leadership also includes problem-solving skills and a keen eye for analyzing various situations. They identify and define problems accurately. They are then able to provide apt solutions as well.
#7 Self Motivation – Qualities of a Good Leader
Fear is a choice, a good leader can choose to face or avoid a problem. In the light of letting fear control them, they are obsessed with the ecstatic and emotive feeling of overcoming the fear. Courage is the basis of confidence.
A Courageous leader supervises organizations and instructs employees with confidence and willpower. They’re not trying to be perfect, but they understand the effect of being resilient toward their ideal and criticism and getting stronger while conquering challenges.
If you’ve leaders from different sectors, one trait that sets them apart is their drive to get things done. The ability to constantly encourage and motivate others and themselves, regardless of the situation, is part of being a great leader. They set the example for having the right attitude at the workplace.
#8 Emotional Intelligence – Qualities of a Good Leader
A good IQ and domain knowledge help you master your craft. But, being a leader involves dealing with humans with feelings and emotions. Thus, good leaders must be able to identify, manage, evaluate, and understand their feelings and those around them. Emotional intelligence includes self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, motivation, and social skills.
These are a few skills in the deep well that are a good leader’s qualities. Consistent effort and self-belief can pave the path for you to become the leader you aspire to be. Leadership is not restricted to the top tiers of the organizational hierarchy. While leadership is often considered a singular skill, it is an accumulation of a wide range of other skills, which can be developed through training and experience.
So, observe, learn, and focus on developing your craft and skills. Remember, good leaders are made, not born.
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#9 Cognitive flexibility – Qualities of a Good Leader
A leader with cognitive flexibility can switch thinking, quickly adapt to a new environment, look at issues from multiple perspectives or conceive multiple concepts simultaneously. They are always eager to develop new ideas and learn from good or bad experiences. They never stop adjusting their management and old mindset and consider changes as positivity. They are likely to show their respect for cultural diversity.
#10 Advocacy – Qualities of a Good Leader
An advocated leader shows you active listening and empathy toward each employee so they can advocate with trust. They don’t pressure others; they try to listen and seek to understand rather than focus on problem-solving only. They won’t let assumptions making happen too quickly and proactively take action before someone ask for help.
#11 Expertise – Qualities of a Good Leader
Influential leaders don’t need to be the most experienced or innovative in the team, but they are knowledgeable enough to persuade others to follow their standards and principles. Learning is a lifetime process, and they are hungry to be educated. They’re always looking for opportunities to improve and broaden their perspectives about themselves, others, and the world around them. Every decision they make is wrong; the passion lies behind it.
#12 Honesty – Qualities of a Good Leader
There is a strong relationship between team performance and trust in leadership. Therefore, building trust between a team and an organization is crucial. To build genuine connections successfully, a leader must first be a sincere and honourable person. He or she won’t let dishonesty and inequality happen for whatever reason. Therefore, honesty is one of the most critical ethical traits in leadership.
#13 Gratitude – Qualities of a Good Leader
One of the critical traits of a leader is being grateful. Many people define gratitude as a weakness that denies power; by contrast, it is the most influential factor. As they are well-pleased at work and less likely to let anxiety and burnout affect their mental health, they try to make it work out for their employees too. When you work with a grateful leader, you will work in a pleasant and productive workplace or a healthy competitive work environment.
#14 Deliberation – Qualities of a Good Leader
A top of good character traits for leadership is deliberation. Conscious leadership can be described with self-awareness and meticulous attention to detail. Sometimes they are risk-averse and perfectionistic. They sometimes act as teachers, mentors, and role models.
#15 Empowerment – Qualities of a Good Leader
Empowerment can be considered one of the covenant leadership traits. He or she shows respect for others’ uniqueness and understands their employee’s strengths and weaknesses. They are willing to provide necessary resources to encourage mutual care for their subordinates to develop critical thinking, creativity, and accountability.
#16 Certainty – Qualities of a Good Leader
A good leader won’t say something like I’m not sure” or “I think.” They always have certainty in their voice and make decisions decisively, not randomly. If they are not sure about something, how can they make their subordinates believe in their management? Every idea they deliver or decision they make follows with conviction.
#17 Confidence – Qualities of a Good Leader
A crucial part of effective leadership is confidence. In other words, set aside self-doubt and put all efforts and mind into eliminating triggers, recognizing your talents and your team members’ talents, know how to do and how well you can do to address problems. It also protects your members when needed and is not afraid to be wrong.
#18 Accountability – Qualities of a Good Leader
Committed to the organization and its people is how a leader shows a trait of accountability, which is quite different from responsibility. Accountable leaders try to foster alignment and team focus, consider their role seriously and put the team’s goals and objectives first. They must hold themselves as maximum accountable for their actions and decisions. Additionally, three critical areas need to be considered to improve an inclusive culture, including awareness, authenticity, and accountability.
The Bottom Line
Being an effective leader is not easy. Many qualities of a good leader can be used to define good leadership traits, but the above 18 factors are among the most popular ones that most leaders look for.
Perks or punishment? It is a challenging question many leaders ask themselves when dealing with their subordinates. Rewarding your employees with some bonus, incentives, and gifts,…. is never a bad idea to boost team performance and bonding.