23 LEADERSHIP QUALITIES OF A GREAT LEADER – Which ones do you Possess?


Leadership is one of those ambiguous terms that mean different things to different people. You hear it all the time with various definitions in various settings; however, one thing stands sure: A great leader is someone who makes a difference between success and failure by the decisions that they make in every situation.

Over the years watching movies and TV shows I have seen many examples of what qualities of a great leader make an impact on people, but one character that does justice to the role of leadership is the character of David Palmer, played by Dennis Haysbert in the 24 tv series. I mean, he gave life to the word charisma and taught me what it meant to lead people. He was loved, respected, and honored as the man of the people.

We discuss a ton of times on this blog how you can become a thought leader, become the driver of change, now in this article, we would be discussing the ‘Leader’ aspect of it. Who is a leader? And what are the qualities of a great leader?

QUALITIES OF A GREAT LEADER

To begin, who is a Leader?

According to John C Maxwell, 

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” 

Anyone can be a good leader; it all begins with building one’s self and developing the abilities to understand people and deliver results. To develop leadership qualities, an individual must take time out to study, and lead in every capacity he finds himself.

Find below our compilation of the most compelling, needed and difference-making qualities of a great leader.

Highly Recommended Article:

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23 Qualities of a Great Leader (Which ones you already possess?)

1.     Vision:

QUALITIES OF A GREAT LEADER - VISION

“A leader has the vision and conviction that a dream can be achieved. He inspires the power and energy to get it done.”-Anonymous

It is no surprise that vision tops the list of qualities of a great leader. Vision, in straightforward terms, is the ability to think about or plan the future with imagination or wisdom. To gain vision, you need to gain clarity about yourself, what you want to do, what you want to achieve in the long run, and how you would go about it. When you have answered these questions, it would help you make the right decisions, and prevent you from wasting your time and resources.

2.     Passion for the people you lead

QUALITIES OF A GREAT LEADER - PASSION FOR THE PEOPLE YOU LEAD

The day I realized that for anything to succeed in life, you would need people, was the day I began to study what it takes to flow with anyone and everyone. 

The biggest mistake a lot of people make in our time and age is to treat their subordinates as trash all because they occupy a place of authority. The result is usually having a team of uninterested people who would want to sell you out any chance they get. 

How then do you develop a passion for the people you lead? It starts with you. When you are passionate about what you do, you would have a team willing to follow you. 

The next step is to understand the people you lead. Find out what motivates them, ask about their lives, their hobbies, aspirations, and dreams. Armed with this knowledge, you can find creative ways to incorporate it into everyday work as a team. Your followers (or better yet collaborators) would feel appreciated and willing to work. 

Also, spread the positive vibes. When an environment has positive vibes, people would be moved to do their best anytime any day.

3.     Empathy: Leadership is about empathy

QUALITIES OF A GREAT LEADER - EMPATHY

 “It is about having the ability to relate and connect with people for the purpose of inspiring and empowering their lives.”Oprah Winfrey

The two words that speak loudest in the above statement are “Relate” and “Connect.” As a leader, when you relate and connect with the people who follow you, you inspire them to be better versions of themselves because they look up to you. Learn to understand the problems of your followers and find better ways of making life easier for them.

4.     Humility

QUALITIES OF A GREAT LEADER - HUMILITY

Pride goes before the fall; It is easy to feel that you are always right when you find yourself as the leader. As a great leader, you would need to eliminate that part of you would want to succeed. You might ask, but if I give in to everything my subordinates ask of me, I will lose respect before them. While that is true, it is essential to note that great leaders are strong and decisive. 

Humility doesn’t portray you as weak; instead, it shows that you are self-aware to recognize the value others give without feeling threatened. Humility would require that you contain your ego, admit that you are wrong, and give credit to people as at when due. 

5.     Wisdom and thirst for learning

QUALITIES OF A GREAT LEADER - WISDOM AND THIRST FOR LEARNING

The day you stop learning is the day you die. These words have lived with me for the past ten years. 

As some aspiring to be a great leader, you need to understand that times and trends keep changing. If you want to be at the top of your game, it is essential to note that you must develop the habit of reading, studying, and learning. When you learn and research, you give less room to fear, anxiety, and mistakes. 

6.     Charisma

QUALITIES OF A GREAT LEADER - CHARISMA

The compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others. As a leader, you can develop charisma by making yourself attractive. How? By directly investing in yourself and learning how to flow with people. Charisma is one trait that would make your followers want to walk through fire with you if you need to. 

7.     Courage

QUALITIES OF A GREAT LEADER - COURAGE

Courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to move in spite of the doubt. 

As a leader, you have people looking up to you, there will be days when terrible things might happen, but the ability to stand strong and firm is all that matters. Your courage becomes a fuel that your followers tap from when they feel lost and scared. You develop courage by understanding yourself fully and taking risks when you have to.

8.     Resilience

QUALITIES OF A GREAT LEADER - RESILIENCE

The human race is good at giving up easily when things get complicated. As a leader, resilience will always take you far, because you recover quickly from difficulties and make progress no matter what. 

Resilience stems from having a dream and a vision and making sure that the idea and concept succeed no matter the mishap along the way.

9.     Transparency

QUALITIES OF A GREAT LEADER - TRANSPARENCY

There are pillars of leadership that can never be bypassed. One of them is transparency. You are honest with the people who follow you, the authority above you, and the systems that guide your position. 

So many businesses, organizations, and countries have experienced downfall due to a severe lack of transparency. When people see that your words are your bond, they would trust you wholeheartedly and commit themselves to follow you. To develop transparency does not require many skills; instead, it is all about keeping yourself accountable.

10.  Being Proactive 

QUALITIES OF A GREAT LEADER - BEING PROACTIVE

Taking action no matter the circumstance surrounding you. It is not easy, but it is possible. When you have long term goals and plans, it boosts your proactivity such that even amid failed ideas, you can swing into action. To be proactive, you need a support system that would hold you up and motivate you. It is essential.

11.  Strategic Thinking

QUALITIES OF A GREAT LEADER - strategic thinking

Planning is not just enough, but having a strategy that works. You can make plans about how a project should run, however with strategy, you arm yourself with information about trends, and anticipation about where your industry is going in the next 5 to 10 years. 

Your approach will enable you as a Leader to be on top of situations even before they happen. A great leader understands that competition is always on the rise, and having foresight is the only thing that will help you to win.

12.  Excellent Communicators 

QUALITIES OF A GREAT LEADER - excellent communicator

Talking and communicating with people is an art on its own. As a great leader, your vision can scale through if you can express your vision correctly to the people who follow you. 

Being an excellent communicator means that you have what it takes to use words rightly and in the right proportion to make people understand and carry out the vision.

13.  Delegation and Empowerment

QUALITIES OF A GREAT LEADER - delegate and empower

If you want to be a great leader, understand that you cannot do everything right by yourself. If you try, you will burn out. 

As a great leader, it is expected of you to be able to communicate your vision effectively and delegate aspects of the concept to people who work with you. One of the best ways to get this done is to make the mission statement of your vision easy to remember so that wherever your subordinates find yourself, they would be able to carry out what needs to be done as though you were the one doing it. Also, during delegation, ensure that you provide your followers with the resources to get the work done.

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.”Michael Jordan

14.  Decision making 

QUALITIES OF A GREAT LEADER - decision making

Decisions are critical aspects of our everyday life, and a decision taken rightly or wrongly can affect the lives of the masses. As a leader with a vision, you should be able to make the right decisions, and good decisions often come from long hours of thinking and going through ideas.

Decision making should not only be focused on you, ensure that if you have stakeholders or a support system, discuss the decisions you are about to take so that they will open your eyes to loopholes you might have overlooked. 

In a much more challenging environment you might be required to make decisions quickly and be ready to deal with the risks that they entail. 

“…most decisions should probably be made with somewhere around 70% of the information you wish you had. If you wait for 90%, in most cases, you’re probably being slow.” Jeff Bezos

15.  Creativity and innovation

 

QUALITIES OF A GREAT LEADER - CREATIVITY AND INNOVATION

Everyone has the same idea as you, but how you accomplish it is what makes you stand out. As a leader, you need to have creative ways to make even the most mundane things look better. Creativity separates the follower from the leader.

16.  Focus

QUALITIES OF A GREAT LEADER - focus

A great leader doesn’t focus on the results. I will tell you why. When you focus on the results alone, you will be the type of leader that ensures that things are done by hook or crook regardless of the outcome. 

Great leaders focus on their strengths and the strengths of the people who work with them. When you focus on the strengths of your people, you fill them with a sense of purpose and the ability to win over and over again, even after a particular project has finished. 

For instance, imagine that you would want to buy a car, but instead of purchasing the vehicle, you invested in the money in a business and used the proceeds to buy the car. In the end, you have both the car and more money to your name. The same goes for focus when you focus on the strength of your followers during a project; you leave them full and able to carry on more projects in the future.

17.  Optimistic

QUALITIES OF A GREAT LEADER - OPTIMISTIC

Great leaders are confident: An optimistic person does far more than some who goes through the motions, and lives a pessimistic life. Optimism is the ability to see the best in every situation.  

If you can communicate your confidence to your followers, you would enable them to achieve results. It can be hard sometimes, but optimism is possible and can be built by motivating yourself daily, listening to motivational books and messages, etc. 

18.  Commitment and passion to the vision

QUALITIES OF A GREAT LEADER - PASSION FOR THE VISION

Your love for the vision will make you get your hands dirty with your followers while they work. When they see that you are committed even to the smallest things, they would want to give in their best. It will earn you their respect and infuse them with energy to work and be better.

19.  Rewarding your followers

QUALITIES OF A GREAT LEADER - REWARD YOUR FOLLOWERS

When people give their best to your vision, ensure that you always reward them. This way, they are motivated to do even better. 

If you do not have the resources to buy the extra-large gifts, it shouldn’t stop you. There are other creative ways of rewarding people for their hard work. You could get them cinema tickets, gift cards, put their names up on the wall as an employee of the week. This way, they feel appreciated and willing to work with you. 

If you’ve seen the TV show suits and watched Harvey specter, you would remember that he was always doing this to everyone who worked with him.

20.  Accountability

QUALITIES OF A GREAT LEADER - ACCOUNTABILITY

A great leader makes sure that his subordinates are accountable for what they are doing. If they do well, appreciate and reward them when they make mistakes, hold them responsible for their actions. 

Accountability will create a sense of responsibility in the other subordinates and will make them go about the vision and business very seriously.

And yes, you should be the leading example when it comes to being accountable – accept and apologize if need be when you mess up.

21.  Tactful

QUALITIES OF A GREAT LEADER - TACT

Being diplomatic means that you must approach things most diplomatically. Things will get on your nerves, people will always make you angry, but tactfulness will enable you to approach each issue properly. 

As a leader, you must have self-control, never attack your followers with aggression because the outcome can scar them, and the repercussions can be terrible. When you get angry, take time off to let go of your anger before you speak or say things you cannot take back.

22.  Great Collaborators 

QUALITIES OF A GREAT LEADER - GREAT COLLABORATOR

No matter the position you occupy, when you see your people more as collaborators than followers, the better for you. 

A very vivid example comes to mind. If you have seen the Designated Survivor, in one of the episodes, there was an issue at hand, and Tom Kirkman, the president (played by Kiefer Sutherland), called for a town hall meeting. The essence of the meeting was to hear the views of his people and make them feel included in the decision-making process of his government. His approach during the meeting made the people endeared to him. 

As a leader, you can make collaboration easy by always seeing your subordinates as people who work with you and not for you. Take note of the difference between ‘With’ and “for.” It is all that matters.

23.Honesty and integrity 

QUALITIES OF A GREAT LEADER - HONESTY AND INTEGRITY

How do you expect your followers to be honest when you are not? This question hit home the first time I heard it. As a great leader, you need to understand that integrity and honesty on your part will increase the loyalty and respect your followers have for you. Be the kind of person whose words will not be questioned and judged. Stick with your core beliefs and values always.

CONCLUSION

How do you feel about the qualities of a great leader now? They may sound like unattainable feats, but it is possible. It would take a lot of discipline, hard work, and study on your part. When you achieve these, you would be able to make your mark in the halls of leadership. 

I believe that great leaders are not infallible, they are people who have gone through a lot, and learned from the experiences they had to become these amazing coaches and inspirations to the rest of the world.

REFERENCES & FURTHER READING

Brian Tracy. 7 Leadership Qualities, Attributes & Characteristics Of Good Leaders. https://www.briantracy.com/blog/leadership-success/the-seven-leadership-qualities-of-great-leaders-strategic-planning/

Sarmad Hasan.Top 10 Leadership Qualities That Make Good Leaders. https://blog.taskque.com/characteristics-good-leaders/

Linda Le Phan. 21 Most Compelling Qualities of Great Leaders https://transparency.kununu.com/compelling-qualities-of-great-leaders/

Emidio Amadebai

For the past 2 years, I have been working as the head of Customer Experience, Sales, Marketing, and Customer Finance at an international pay as you go solar home system company working in rural areas in Africa. After my previous 7 years working in B2B, IT&Telecoms industry, as a Service Delivery and Project Manager, having worked with Vodacom, Huawei, and other multinational companies. My job is to make sure we improve the lives of thousands of families, with access to electricity, utilities (radio, TV, lights), doing our very best so that they get the best-in-class customer experience, and succeed in acquiring the products for themselves.

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