17 Leadership Qualities All Great Leaders Should Have

Last Updated on June 8, 2021 by Vasco Lourenço

Every business is unique. Therefore there are different types of leadership qualities.

You must realize that each type of leadership requires different leadership qualities. Some businesses require that you are a great communicator, others are great at delegation, and some are great at innovation and creativity. 

You may also be very knowledgeable and have a great track record in the area of your expertise. If you don’t have leadership qualities in a specific field, you may want to learn about those skills so you can present yourself as a leader who has these skills.

Whether you run your own company, lead a team in an office environment, or interact positively with other people, good leaders need strong leadership qualities. 

The most essential qualities of a great leader are communicating, having confidence, and trusting his/her team members.

Honesty and integrity are top priorities.

People trust leaders that show integrity with their words and actions. Your word is important, and you need to be someone who people can rely on. People are attracted to people who are honest and reliable. Leadership that is not based on honesty is not going to get them where they want to go. You need to be a trusted and respected individual within your field.

Behavioral theory suggests that leadership qualities are not rooted in one’s personality but can be imparted, acquired by people, and taught over time.

This article covers the most important qualities you can possess if you want to become a great leader.

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What are the Top Leadership Qualities (For You to be a Good Leader)?

No matter how one defines the word “leadership,” no one can deny that certain individuals’ experiences and insights can influence others’ lives. Several qualities make a great leader, such as self-control, discipline, integrity, and a strong sense of responsibility.

Although some leaders are born this way by nature, leadership qualities can be learned through experience. It does not matter if one has not led before. Since we all live on different timelines in our lives, we seek advice and guidance from leaders.

Some certain qualities or abilities ultimately make the “most effective” leader.

And you can be one of them.

Here are the top leadership qualities that you must have to be a great leader:

  1. Confidence
  2. Integrity
  3. Commitment
  4. Communication
  5. Accountability
  6. Delegation
  7. Empowerment
  8. Emotional Intelligence
  9. Humility
  10. Empathy
  11. Courage
  12. Transparency
  13. Vision
  14. Resilience
  15. Positivity
  16. Influence
  17. Charisma

1. Confidence

corporate man with big shadow that shows confidence

Source: insperity.com

Confidence is our belief that something will work out, that it will be good, that we can count on it to happen. It’s also a state where we feel as if things are perfect, where we are happy to see progress or good results. 

While confidence is most commonly associated with winning sports, it is also true in a work environment, where we are more confident in our abilities.

In a job setting, confidence usually means knowing that a project or idea will be implemented. It is also associated with self-esteem and self-confidence, and the feeling of having control over our destiny.

When we feel confident about something we do or say, it generally requires some effort to attain this confidence and maintain it at a certain level.

Confidence has three elements:

  1. Positive thinking.
  2. The belief that we can do or have a particular result.
  3. Trust that the results will be satisfactory.

Positive thinking can come from any source, including the positive experiences we have. This type of thinking also helps us make decisions that are in line with our goals and desires.

For example, if we want to have good grades on a test but feel intimidated by the teacher or the subject, we can use positive thinking to convince ourselves that we can get a better grade. Finally, we have confidence that we can complete tasks promptly and confidence in the results that come from our work.

The first step to developing confidence is recognizing the various qualities that people possess and understanding that a certain amount of trust is required to allow someone to take full control of their own lives.

It takes time to develop trust as you learn about what it means and how you can best share your thoughts, ideas, and feelings with others.

When you can develop confidence, you are then ready to begin building your team. As you move forward, you will begin to learn new skills and become an effective leader.

As the process continues, you will find that you and your team are becoming more confident and effective together, and the confidence will begin to show in all areas of your life.

2. Integrity and Honesty

desk with a paper reading integrity

Source: bigideasforsmallbusiness.com

Integrity and honesty are two critical elements that make a great leader. How do you expect your colleagues to be honest if you lack those traits yourself?

Great leaders succeed by not compromising their values and beliefs without integrity, and without ethical standards, this won’t be easy.

Leaders fail when they stray from their values or beliefs. A leader that is not willing to compromise must have a strong sense of right and wrong. If he or she does, then they can become a great leader.

Being honest is another virtue a great leader must possess. If you don’t think honesty is a trait you have, then it is time you consider changing your behavior. Honesty is the key to any relationship. If your partner finds out your lies on the first day of your relationship, then chances are they won’t remain with you for long. If you can keep your word and tell the truth, then you are a great partner. You will be trusted and valued by your partner, and if you keep that truth hidden from them, they will eventually find out and probably will end the relationship.

Don’t let dishonesty get in the way of your success in life, even if you think you can’t afford to keep your word.

Leadership qualities are something that every individual has, and some have more than others. 

Great leaders do not need to learn leadership skills from books, as they already have them. A leader may not have all of the qualities or abilities that others do, but they do possess the quality of integrity.

3. Commitment

word cloud with commitment focused

Source: medium.com

The phrase commitment to excellence is a widespread one. But there is much more than just this.

There are several different types of commitment, and some of them can be very serious and important to a business’ success.

You have the dedication to the success of your organization. This includes working to make sure the work you’re doing gets done, to make sure that the products you sell are of the best quality possible, to make sure that you have the tools that your customers need to make their lives easier.

Commitment to excellence means treating all of your people like they have your organization’s success at heart. It means showing them how important their work is and how valuable their contributions are to your business.

Besides, you commit to growing your business, and so you have a commitment to growth. That means being willing to expand your business if necessary, to take the next step.

All of this ties together to what it means to be a good leader. A good leader takes the commitment to excellence to heart and understands its importance to their business.

They take pride in how well they do, and they put it into practice by being able to see the potential of their team members.

They do it through the way they treat people, inspiring enthusiasm, loyalty, and commitment, challenging people to excel themselves.

4. Communication

leadership qualities communication

Source: psychologytoday.com

Communication is one of the essential tools for any leader, regardless of the field.

In the leadership world, the most critical skill a leader must have is communicating effectively. There are three basic principles to successful communication: listening, speaking with intent, and listening to feedback.

The first thing you have to do as a leader is to listen to what others have to say. For people to follow you, you have to make them feel heard. You will begin to know them and trust them. You will feel you listen to their thoughts, their feelings, and even their emotions. This way, people will be drawn to you and will like and trust you.

To be successful at communication, you need to be able to communicate clearly with your audience. Do not use jargon or long sentences; try to come across as concise and easy to comprehend. You also need to maintain eye contact and body language that reflect that clarity and confidence.

Understand the concept of “listening first, then speaking second“. To practice, you could also ask people about their ideas and questions and try to answer each one without interrupting them and making sure they get their point across.

Communication is one of the crucial leadership qualities essential for you to be a great leader trusted by everyone.

5. Accountability

leadership qualities accountability

Source: industryweek.com

Accountability is the key to leadership.

In a business or government setting, people must feel secure that the leader will be held accountable for decisions made.

Accountability also encourages trust between employees and leaders. It also helps people trust their leaders and work with them. People are willing to sweat for their leaders and follow their lead in order to build confidence and trust within the team. With trust comes loyalty, and people are more willing to work hard if they know they can count on the leader.

Accountability as a role model is one of the fastest ways a leader can build trust with his team. A strong leader is responsible for the team’s good and bad results, taking responsibility and guilt when they are needed.

As Arnold Glasow said:

A good leader takes little more than his share of the blame and little less than his share of the credit.

6. Delegation

Leadership qualities - delegation

Source: insperity.com

Delegation is a key ingredient of outstanding leadership. It is an important tool to empower leaders so they can make the right decisions and make them quickly.

A good and great leader knows when to delegate and let people do what needs to be done. They know when they are doing the right thing for the company but do not want to be accused of micromanaging or dictating things.

They realize that delegating too often can be counterproductive and that they have to be careful not to overdo it, or the people they entrust will feel disrespected. That is why many great leaders allow people to do what they need to do, especially if it’s not critical to success.

Great leaders use delegation sparingly, but when it is needed, they use it well.

7. Empowerment

Leadership qualities - a leader empowering his workers

Source: theceomagazine.com

Great leaders are usually characterized by their skill to empower their followers to achieve success within their organization.

However, it’s important to understand what empowerment means and why it’s so important to your company.

Empowerment can enhance your overall organizational performance by improving your organizational culture and mindset.

By using this powerful management skill, you can become more open and receptive to feedback from your employees. Your employees can help you build and cultivate an environment that will encourage them to communicate well.

It can also provide an avenue for them to voice concerns and problems which they feel have not been dealt with appropriately and for which they have been unfairly penalized by higher-ups or the management.

Empowerment can also enhance your leadership qualities. This is especially helpful for those people new to leadership roles. You may feel overwhelmed by the responsibilities involved, or you may not have the proper training to effectively manage others.

When you are empowered by a great leader, it allows you to focus on the task at hand without worrying about other issues that may distract you.

A great leader may also motivate you in areas where you feel overwhelmed or bored or where you may feel you’ve let your own thoughts and feelings dictate your actions. When you’re empowered, you may be able to focus on your tasks and projects much more effectively.

And, because empowerment is often related to self-reflection, you’ll come to realize that your attitudes and actions play a large part in how you run your organization.

A leader that empowers others is a person with whom everyone wants to be. This is an essential quality of a great leader.

8. Emotional Intelligence

balancing the heart and the brain - leadership qualities - emotional intelligence

Source: tanveernaseer.com

Emotional intelligence is one of the most important leadership qualities to have in a good leader. It’s the ability to effectively handle your emotions, as well as those of others around you.

Those who have a high level of emotional intelligence to understand how their emotions affect others, what their emotional states mean to them, and how they can affect others with their emotions, have the quality of a great leader.

Leadership style often dictates the amount of emotional intelligence that a person possesses. Emotionally intelligent leaders can express themselves with more confidence and poise than other leaders. 

They can control their emotions positively. They are confident and balanced, allowing for the best leadership potential. A leader who is not balanced emotionally lacks confidence in their decision-making abilities or ability to lead.

Some people believe that emotional intelligence should be viewed as a personality trait, instead of a leadership quality. However, when a leader has a high level of emotional intelligence, they have a high level of leadership potential.

If the leaders in our society do not learn how to deal with their emotions, then it’s likely that they will have a much lower level of leadership potential than leaders that have this trait.

Those leaders with good emotional intelligence can communicate their feelings in a positive way, which allows them to become very effective leaders.

9. Humility

Leadership qualities - humility. A big man taking off his hat to his small shadow

Source: nytimes.com

Humility is the ability to recognize one’s self-worth and the ability to be humble. It is a quality that defines a great leader.

This concept also goes a long way in creating honest, dedicated, supportive, respectful, and caring leaders. It is because of their humility that they achieve such qualities and achieve their goals.

If you believe in this concept, you will be sure to be successful as a leader. Being humble, however, should not come at the expense of your leadership qualities or knowledge.

The concept of being humble is often misunderstood as being a doormat and always standing up to your own imperfections. Still, true humility merely means accepting your flaws and remaining fully aware of your talents and leadership qualities. This helps you to be more open and authentic to those who are working under you.

Leadership can also be done with humility. A genuinely talented leader can take on the role of the leader without the fear of offending others. This makes them more effective in their jobs because they know how they will affect their team members, and they have learned how to manage and lead.

A good leader takes pride in his own personal development.

Because of this growth, he has the courage to be humble and excels at his job. He knows that if he succeeds in his field, it will not be due to his own effort, but rather because of his team’s work. He realizes that he needs them to succeed.

He understands that being an effective leader takes hard work and self-control, but it does not mean that he cannot love the people who work under him.

If you want to be a good leader, be humble, and people will trust you even more.

10. Empathy

cartoon of a brain and a heart shaking hands

Source: marketingland.com

What is empathy? Empathy is the ability to recognize and know others’ emotions and perspectives. That is what great leaders do.

You cannot effectively lead an organization if you do not understand others’ perspectives. You can only influence and motivate people if you first know how others feel. By understanding how others feel, you can determine if they are on your same wavelength or not. This can be a great advantage to you when it comes to influencing them.

If you think that empathy is about “feeling” something or tend to make decisions based on your emotional response, you need to think again.

You are not supposed to base your decision on your own feelings. Instead, you must analyze the situation and what others are thinking before you can make a decision. If you do that, empathy will undoubtedly come to the forefront.

It is also important that you not just react to things happening around you but rather analyze them and find the core cause of whatever it is that is happening.

Empathy also helps you in the planning stages because it enables you to determine the best course of action for the situation.

Good leaders can keep their calm even if a situation is very heated and can handle difficult situations. They can also see the big picture and see the good side of any situation, and therefore they can make the best of a bad situation.

Leaders should know how to relate to people so that they feel understood and appreciated. Being able to empathize allows a great leader to connect to others, making him/her able to inspire others to become passionate about what they are doing.

11. Courage

Courageous leaders have double vision. They see the world as it is and as it could be.

Source: leadershipfreak.blog

The first thing you should know about courage is that it comes in many different forms.

For one thing, you can be courageous to the point of being afraid of things like heights or flying airplanes. You might be brave to the point of going out in public and getting hurt, but you may not have the courage to get yourself taken out by a mugger.

However, when you want to look at courage as something more than just what you can handle, you will see that you are looking at the same thing that some great leaders do when asked to take difficult risks.

Leadership is not something that you can master over time; it is something that is learned.

It may be tempting to use fear as a form of motivation, but if you do this, you may end up making your team more scared than it was in the first place.

In short, if your team members are afraid of what you are saying, they will not listen to you; and if they are not listening, then they are not doing their job correctly, so what good are they? This type of fear is not something you want when you are trying to motivate your team.

On the other hand, when you’re trying to be a great leader, you will have to let go of the fear that is lurking in the background. It is going to be a difficult process, but it is one that you can make happen.

There’s no reason why you cannot do this. You may even find that the fear of being taken out by a mugger actually encourages you to go after them and make a real impact. 

Remember that being a great leader does not mean that you can sit back and relax when managing fear. A great leader uses fear as a tool to propel him/her to action.

12. Transparency

hand writing the word transparency on the screen

Source: boardeffect.com

Transparency is the ability to let your colleagues know what is going on.

For something to be transparent, it must be able to be understood. This is important in business. You have people who do different jobs for you, and they need to understand what is happening with your business. If you do not let your people know what is happening with your business, you have a problem because it will affect how you run your business and how your employees feel about you.

A leader who does not let his people know what is happening is not likely to be a leader.

There are some possible definitions of transparency as it applies to different leadership styles. In this case, transparency refers to a level of openness and honesty, executed so often that your employees trust in your honesty.

A leader should always show his/her honesty, but the key here is how transparent you want your employees to be. The more transparent you want them to be, the more likely your employees will trust that honesty in you.

On the other hand, a leader should be transparent with what he/she is doing for the employee to know what to expect next. When a leader shows an intention to keep his or her employees informed, they show they are interested in the success of their company and also their employees.

Suppose a leader only communicates with those who are directly related to them. In that case, they run the risk of losing their credibility because it will look like they do not care about their business’s success or failure. It may also affect the morale of employees because they may wonder if the leader cares about them.

If you are the leader of a small business and do not care about what is going on with your business, you can create a situation where your colleagues are not happy with you. A good leader can maintain a good relationship with all of his/her colleagues because they will not only care about the business’s success, but they will care about the success of every individual member of their team.

13. Vision

man holding a photographic lens in his hand

Source: thehedgescompany.com

Leading is about vision and purpose.

Vision is the one thing that separates a good leader from a bad one. Good leaders have a vision that resonates with the reality of the world as it exists and is relevant to the current situation in which they are operating.

Good leaders share a vision and leadership that others want to follow and share. The vision of good leadership permeates the workplace and is expressed in your company’s top leaders’ ideals, values, beliefs, and actions.

Good leaders envision the future by understanding how their decisions affect the people who will be affected by those decisions. Good leaders believe that the vision of the company is the goal, not just a target.

Leadership is all about vision, it’s about setting goals and dreams and then achieving them by making hard choices and following through on them.

Vision is the driving force behind the success of a business. Vision is the engine of a leader’s success, and it is not something you “have” but, instead, something you create. Vision is something you work toward every day.

Vision and mission are the cornerstones of a business.

14. Resilience

leadership qualities - resilience

Source: entrepreneur.com

The concept of resilience is an increasingly important one for business leaders and organizations today. In particular, it is time to reconsider what great leadership truly looks like in large organizations and companies and start to develop and acknowledge the leaders who have the capacity to make good decisions under severe pressure.

Resilience is the ability to overcome adversity, setbacks, and trauma and then recover from them to live a full life.

Resilient leadership is not as easy as you think, however.

While this concept can help individuals who have been unable to perform well within an organization or society, it will require that leaders take the time to understand their own mindsets and personalities to lead effectively.

Resilient leaders can adapt, maintain their energy levels under pressure, cope with disruptive change, and deal with adversity. They can recover from setbacks and overcome great difficulties without getting entangled in dysfunctional behavior or harming others.

They have the ability and willingness to get up and get on with it.

One of the keys to resilience is to cultivate a positive mindset.

15. Positivity

corporate man holding a card with a smile

Source: dermascope.com

Positivity is simply defined as the attitude that all things happen for a reason.

Positivity means looking forward to good things, looking at the bright side of things, and expecting good things to happen. It is a stress-free and joyous state of mind that looks at life from an optimistic perspective.

It also means a state of being a good-natured and tolerant person. A positive person will always see the silver lining in any situation and life event.

Positivity has several benefits.

Firstly it can make you feel good about yourself. If you are always thinking happy thoughts, you will not be too depressed or unhappy because your outlook on life will be excellent.

Secondly, you will find that you have more energy and you will also feel better about yourself.

Thirdly, if you are always optimistic about things, you will be more satisfied with life, even in the most trying times. This is also key to be a resilient leader.

A great leader is someone who doesn’t get discouraged with the negative aspects of his/her business but always finds a way to see the positive in it, even if it’s a very faint idea.

No matter how bad an issue may seem, a great leader will always bring his/her colleagues’ positive side, elevating them with a positive mindset.

When you think positive thoughts, you attract good results, even if they’re not what you expected.

16. Influence

leader's influence as a leadership quality

Source: entrepreneur.com

Leadership influence is an essential part of any organization or team, be it a business unit or a student club or group. To effectively implement leadership influence, you have to be able to use the right tools geared towards helping you effectively influence and get your way on the people you are trying to influence.

As a leader, you also need to be careful about how you present yourself in public, which can play a large part in your effort’s success. If you do not show people what kind of leader you are and the type of person you are in your words, your actions will not reflect that kind of image or personality you have in mind.

You also have to be careful with the way that you handle and maintain relationships with your team.

When there is trust on all sides, it can be easy to influence people and make them believe in what you have to say and do. But, if the trust is not maintained, this will lead to problems as you will not be able to effectively influence people and thus influence their decisions and actions.

Many leaders conclude that people will respect them when they reach a certain title of authority or a certain level of leadership. That’s not always the case.

Leadership and influence are two different things, but both are about influencing a person’s character development and behavior.

As a leader, you have the power to influence the character and behavior of another person, a responsibility that should not be overlooked.

Influence is supposed to produce results and bring about change, not only for the sake of progress but also for personal satisfaction.

17. Charisma

charisma as a trait of a good leader

Source: medium.com

Charisma may be defined as a compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others.

Some people seem to think that charisma and leadership are somehow connected, and there is no difference between them.

However, researchers say that charisma can be developed if you know how. They say that charisma isn’t anything more than merely using ideology and emotions to motivate – instead of what so many people do (coerce, bribe, and force others to follow your lead). While you may want to believe that leadership and charisma go hand in hand, you would be wrong.

Leadership and charisma aren’t at all the same thing.

The difference is that charisma can come from within – whereas a leader’s charisma comes from outside their leadership role.

By building and fostering a strong emotional connection with others, you become much more persuasive and inspiring. By creating a strong sense of identity, you become far more appealing to others. By being a great listener and speaker, you can get the best out of your charisma.

If you’re going to use charisma, you should learn to build it up in a healthy manner by learning to be a good listener and speaker and developing good relationships with others.

A good leader has much more chances of being a great leader if they have powerful charisma.

Leadership Qualities FAQs

Below you have a list of the most common questions regarding leadership qualities.

What are great leadership qualities?

Great leadership qualities are those qualities that bring the best in you, in your subordinates, and all people around you. Those qualities make you trust, nourish, and support your leader because he can make you see the best version of yourself.

The great qualities are:

  1. Confidence
  2. Integrity
  3. Commitment
  4. Communication
  5. Accountability
  6. Delegation
  7. Empowerment
  8. Emotional Intelligence
  9. Humility
  10. Empathy
  11. Courage
  12. Transparency
  13. Vision
  14. Resilience
  15. Positivity
  16. Influence
  17. Charisma

Can anyone become a leader?

Anyone can become a leader who has the willingness and drive to achieve his goals, but there is no perfect leader. We all have unhealthy or weak traits, and all the best leaders concentrate and grow their desirable traits while bringing their weaker traits to power.

Change your move by focusing on the more desirable trait and then using it to overwhelm the unhealthy one.

What’s the shape of a perfect leader?

It’s challenging to build a good leadership model out of hundreds, but good leaders always try to improve as they learn, through education, self-motivation, learning from experiences, etc. The perfect leader is not only the best in his field, but he is also the ideal role model for all other leaders in his field.

How can a leader avoid being corrupted by power?

Corruption doesn’t stem, necessarily, from power. Corruption is when someone deviates from the moral value that a community or society has set.

Even though the corrupted action is controlled by their type of power, the action is driven by their inner-self, not power per se. Developing your inner-self and having healthy respect and consideration for others is the best way to avoid being corrupted by power.

What should successful leaders never do?

To become a successful leader, you should avoid these types of manners:

  1. Acting arrogant, believing you know everything.
  2. Thinking success is only related to work and business.
  3. Not showing gratitude.
  4. Rejecting outside coaching.
  5. Forgetting to work on your physical, mental, and spiritual health.
  6. Not supporting others.
  7. Holding grudges.
  8. Expecting everyone to be perfect, including yourself.
  9. Deceive, mislead, and gossip.

In one short sentence, what’s a leader?

A leader is a person who enables people to do their best and become the best version of themselves.

Leadership Qualities: Conclusion

To become a great leader, one must develop personal skills that encourage good management, teamwork, and trust.

Leadership is the ability to lead by example, which is the responsibility of the leader.

Leadership includes:

  • Creating a vision.
  • Communicating it.
  • Building a plan.
  • Motivating and inspiring others.
  • Delegating tasks and responsibilities.
  • Planning.
  • Leading by example.

To develop and improve these qualities, one must gain training. Leadership also requires practice because leadership skills cannot be learned in a classroom, conference, or reading. It is all about practice.

A great leader knows how to get the job done and get results. He understands the importance of relationships and what it takes to get the job done right. A great leader can listen and learn and see the big picture and the essential details of a project.

I hope you enjoyed these essential leadership qualities that all great leaders should have. May they serve you on your path to becoming a great leader, be it in your work or not.

We sometimes forget that we have to be the leaders of ourselves

Let me know in the comments below if there are more qualities you think should be listed.

Vasco Lourenço is a digital entrepreneur and created his blog vaslou.com to inspire those who are willing to put in the effort to start their online side hustle and create a life of financial freedom. Besides writing on his blog, Vasco delights playing the piano and composing music.

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