What are the Leadership Qualities that Make a Great Leader?

We’ve all been inspired by great leaders and their leadership qualities. Put simply, leadership is the ability to influence others in achieving a common goal. It is not something that can be attributed to a single characteristic or quality, but rather is a combination of several.

Are good leaders born or made? While some people seem to have natural leadership qualities, if you read the biographies of great leaders, you can see that they became leaders by the hardships or struggles they endured in their life and by their deliberate practice and actions. By practicing these leadership qualities or attributes, you can be sure that you’ll be well on your path to being a great leader.

1. Vision

We celebrate those who dream big and have a vision of something better for the future. Having a vision is one of the top leadership qualities a leader must have. In an organization, a vision is the goal or the dream of a future state of things that the leader shares with the team in order to achieve it.

Many of us are only held back by our own self limiting beliefs. If we were to suspend our doubts on why we cannot make our dreams a reality and have the mental freedom to think about what we really want out of life, we will set the bar high not only for ourselves but also for our families, communities and the organizations that we are associated with.

If you don’t have a vision, you need to create one. Nothing great was ever achieved without vision and enthusiasm to make your vision a reality. Focusing on short term tasks is good, but you also need to have longer term thinking of where you want to take your life or your organization.

2. Focus

Focus is one among the highest rated leadership qualities. There is a Russian proverb that says “If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one”. A good leader has his/her priorities set and remains undeterred, regardless of the obstacles that come in the way. Only then, s/he can lead the team towards the goal that must be achieved.

There are so many things clamoring for our attention, there is so much noise going on around that distracts us. Focus is the ability to cut through the noise and give unwavering attention to the priority that is of utmost importance to achieving your vision.

3. Confidence

Confidence is the trust or belief you have about your potential. Our thoughts determine our actions and our actions determine the kind of life we will live. It’s of utmost importance that a leader believes in themselves and their ability. This will strengthen the belief of others in them and will help build a strong team who can stand behind their leader.

Confidence can be developed in different ways. If you are under confident, you can increase your confidence by increasing your competence, knowledge and by starting small and gradually moving on to larger goals.

4. Communication

Great communication is one of the hallmarks of a great leader. A leader must be able to communicate his thoughts, vision and plan of action to their team, to make sure s/he has their buy in. Oftentimes, there may be conflicts within teams or the need to get other teams to cooperate, where communication skills are crucial to achieve goals as per the plan.

Communication can be verbal, non-verbal, visual and written. Even the art of listening is a type of communication. Communication can be developed by practice and by putting yourself out there and interacting with others, even in difficult situations. If you’re an introvert in the corporate world, you may need to put in additional effort on developing this skill.

5. Integrity

A leader must have integrity to be trusted by his/her followers. Character in a leader is of equal as competence. When a leader demonstrates integrity and fairness, it inspires trust and confidence in their followers. History is full of examples of leaders and executives who fell from grace because of a lapse in their moral judgement. When a leader assumes a leadership position, there is an implicit agreement to stand apart and set an example in a good way.

6. Decisiveness

A leader must be able to take decisions in a timely manner to inspire confidence in their team. A leader without strong decision making skills may come across as timid or lacking in confidence. Furthermore, poor decision making or putting off decision making can have serious financial and organizational impacts. Decision making may sometimes be required without many data points, but a leader must be able to make intelligent decisions by relying on their experience or by seeking out trusted advisors.

7. Transparency

Transparency builds trust between leaders and their teams. By demonstrating transparency in their interactions, leaders ensure that there are no surprises for their team and the team is in the know about the important decisions that are being made and why they are being made. This encourages team members to speak up and be open, leading to increased engagement and better solutions to problems because of the two way communication between teams and leadership.

8. Empathy

Leaders who are empathetic understand the needs of their team. When employees feel heard, they are more engaged and work well together. Empathy helps build better relationships and create a positive environment. However, leaders must make sure that they are impartial in their decisions, and not influenced by the unconscious bias created because of identifying with the feelings and perspectives of others.

9. Accountability

Leaders should take responsibility not only for the success of their teams, but the failures as well. It means not finding a person to take the blame if things go wrong, but taking full ownership of the outcome. Leaders don’t wait for things to happen, they make things happen. They do not hesitate to improve things by taking ownership regardless of who gets the credit.

10. Ability to Inspire

Great leaders have the ability to influence and inspire their teams. Instead of using their position of power and authority, they are able to influence and inspire by building trust and motivating their teams to bring about positive outcomes. They are able to influence and inspire through their purpose and passion.

Conclusion

Anyone can be a leader, regardless of position or title by being aware and practicing these leadership principles and developing these characteristics. Leadership is not about having a higher role in the organization, or having people reporting to you. It is about how you earn respect and lead by example. If you work to develop these leadership qualities or traits, when you assume the leadership role or position, you come across as a natural leader and are able to lead effortlessly.

Shuba is a blogger at Bazaar Expert who blogs about business, software products, personal finance and marketing. She is interested in minimalism and is always looking for ways to declutter her life.


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