What Are the Qualities of a Good Leader?

Good leaders are crucial to company success, but do you know what defines good leadership? Consider key terms used in leadership descriptions provided by top CEOs of successful companies:

  • “…helping others realize their potential and inspiring them to work with you to achieve a shared vision for the future.”
  • “…helping people succeed, inspiring and uniting people behind a common purpose and then being accountable.” 
  • “…empower people and help them grow and build on their strengths…
  • “…you set the destination. You come up with a strategy to get to that destination and do your best to align and supply the resources to make that happen.” 
  • “…the ability to drive results, set the vision and share it, create an environment of success…”

The terms in these descriptions have a common theme. Help, inspire, achieve, unite, and empower are all terms that encourage people toward a certain direction. Unfortunately, the qualities used to define good leaders are not always found in managers, supervisors, or team leaders. So, how can you identify the qualities that make a good leader and use them to help your company succeed? Read our guide to learn more about the qualities of good leaders and how to develop and nurture those qualities in qualified employees.

Can Leadership Qualities Be Learned or Taught?

If leadership qualities are derived directly from a certain personality type, or genetically prescribed at birth, it would be impossible to replicate them with any level of success. However, there is always the possibility that such characteristics are built through experiences and learned by example. In fact, some research suggests that leadership qualities are only 30% genetic and can indeed be learned and improved over time.

Perhaps more importantly, the primary factors for success in the effort to improve leadership skills are willingness and motivation. Potential leaders with a willingness to learn and the ability to acknowledge their potential for improvement are poised to become effective leaders in any role. Yet, to develop good leadership skills, it’s important to investigate the qualities of successful leaders and learn how to build skills that bring out those qualities.

7 Qualities of Effective Leaders

From teachers to mentors and workplace leaders, most people have come into contact with individuals who inspire them to succeed. These behaviors are usually so intertwined with the personality of a leader that it can be difficult to pinpoint exact actions that motivate others. Yet certain qualities are recognized among effective leaders.

1. Integrity

This quality is an often overlooked trait of powerful leaders. An individual with integrity holds firmly to personal beliefs. Why is this important? A leader with integrity won’t sway under pressure or place the value of popularity over making the right choice. Consider how the following actions display behavior with integrity.

  • Admitting and apologizing for mistakes
  • Appreciation for the efforts of others
  • Displaying empathy and fairness when disputes arise
  • Highlighting the work of others and downplaying personal contributions

2. Insightful Communication Skills

Effective communication requires a combination of listening and transmitting information. Surprisingly, a strong communicator doesn’t have to be an extrovert. Instead, it’s more important to engage in active listening and demonstrate empathy. The ability to communicate with a wide range of people across different roles, backgrounds, geographies, and social identities helps leaders to develop relationships. A good leader listens with empathy, makes others feel heard and expresses themself openly.

3. Innovative Thinking and Decision-Making Skills

Flexibility is an essential trait in every industry. Good leaders embrace the changing nature of business and meet challenges with creative solutions. An innovative leader is also open to new ideas and discussions. Whether a change of direction is required because of a minor roadblock or large obstacle, it’s essential to meet these challenges with an adaptable nature.

4. Humility

A good leader encourages others to succeed. To accomplish this, an effective leader will encourage team members to express ideas, contribute to projects, and build their strengths. A good manager knows that they can’t do it all and elevates the successes of others.

5. Inspiring Behavior

Good leadership means displaying behavior others will want to follow. A leader with a vision will convey that vision to others and get them excited about it. Authentic and transparent behavior will build trust and encourage others to follow by example. Respect in the workplace is earned instead of demanded. Good leaders inspire others with these behaviors.

  • Making others feel important
  • Working together to accomplish shared goals
  • Building authentic relationships
  • Asking for suggestions and opinions
  • Behaving professionally 
  • Displaying and promoting honesty

6. Passion

Good leaders have goals with a central purpose and the ability to share their vision in a way that encourages action from others. Leaders who are passionate about what they do enjoy what they do and show enthusiasm in a variety of tasks. This type of behavior engages other employees and makes the workplace more enjoyable.

7. Self-Awareness

A leader who is aware of both his strengths and weaknesses understands there is room for continual improvement. The constantly changing atmosphere of the business world and related technology requires continued evolution. True leaders know there’s always room for improvement and try to find new ways to succeed.

How to Develop Good Leadership Qualities

If you’re a manager or you aspire to eventually take a leadership position, you may be concerned if you don’t display common leadership qualities. Luckily, you can take steps to strengthen your skills and develop the characteristics to inspire others. Self-awareness of your weaknesses is the first step toward improving leadership qualities. Ongoing education and insight into your team can help you develop the characteristics of a good leader. Try these methods to help you build good management skills.

Conduct Self-Assessments and Create Personal Development Plans

Developing professional and emotional intelligence will help you reach management goals. Investigate your management qualities and compare how your measurements compare to those of your team and employees. Ideas to accomplish this may include:

  • Create a list of your strengths and weaknesses in the workplace.
  • Set goals to improve in areas of weakness.
  • Consider investing in additional education online or in-person.
  • Accept that you’ll run into obstacles and navigate them with an open mind.

Focus on Team Development

Good leaders lift up their teams. Instead of focusing on giving orders, note the specific strengths of your employees to appropriately delegate tasks. Paying more attention to your team will help you empathize with others and help you naturally enhance your leadership skills. Take these steps to help your teams advance in their current positions.

  • Make genuine connections with team members and employees.
  • Conduct surveys to determine employee engagement and satisfaction. 
  • Note strengths in each of your employees.
  • Make training and employee advancement a priority.
  • Delegate tasks to provide employees with new opportunities. 
  • Show empathy for the pain points of your team.

Practice Effective Communication

Positive communication is rarely achieved through the act of giving orders. A great leader is capable of clearly communicating goals and openly listening to others. Try these tips to improve your interpersonal communication skills.

  • Learn the goals of the company and find ways to work toward those goals.
  • Explain organizational goals in clear, concise language.
  • Take the time to actively listen with empathy.
  • Show enthusiasm for new ideas and suggestions.
  • Maintain flexibility and positivity.
  • Learn effective communication skills for phone calls, emails, conferences, and social media.
  • Always be transparent about your mistakes and shortcomings.
  • Never abuse your position of power.

To Be a Better Leader, Focus On Your Team

A management position shouldn’t be viewed as a position of power. Instead, it is a role that allows you to help develop the strengths of your team. A good leader helps others and inspires success through ethical behavior. Surprisingly, the best way to improve your leadership skills is likely to remove your focus from yourself to define weaknesses and champion successful actions within your team. 

While active listening and delegating responsibilities can help you learn more about your team, existing data can provide even more information. If you have limited visibility into the factors impacting your team’s performance, it can be difficult to move forward. With actionable insights, resources to support improvement and team performance scores, you can track your team’s progress over time. This added information gives you new insight to improve leadership skills and engage team members with targeted opportunities.