14 Leadership Qualities That Are Found in Great Leaders

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 25 August 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Leadership is a skill used by executives, managers and project leads alike. When you have strong leadership skills, it helps generate loyalty among coworkers and encourages everyone to take part in moving the company forward. Developing and using leadership skills helps you become effective at commanding attention and driving others to perform well. In this article, we discuss 14 important qualities leaders should have and explain how to improve your leadership skills.

Why leadership skills are important

People look to leaders to show them the way forward in an organisation and encourage them to perform at a high level. A good leader can improve the productivity of their work environment to achieve organisational goals as a group.

Even if you are not already in a leadership role, learning leadership skills can help you guide your colleagues during group projects and improve your own standing in your organisation. You may even get the opportunity to start working in a leadership position. In this way, leadership skills can help you further your career as well as your organisation.

Top 14 leadership qualities

Becoming a leader means possessing certain qualities that make people look up to you and follow your example. You may possess some qualities naturally and need to learn others to become a well-rounded leader. Here are 14 key qualities that great leaders typically have:

  • Enthusiasm

  • Focus

  • Empathy

  • Loyalty

  • Empowerment

  • Decisiveness

  • Responsibility

  • Vision

  • Influence

  • Confidence

  • Motivation

  • Positivity

  • Resilience

  • Communication

Enthusiasm

Employees look up to the leader of a company to understand how they should feel about the organisation. They are more likely to follow a leader who is passionate about their vision and wants to see projects brought to completion no matter what. Having enthusiasm also means being energetic and positive around those you lead to inspire others to care as much as you do.

Focus

Leaders need to demonstrate focus to show employees that they can come up with effective and innovative strategies. Employees try harder when they know that their leader is staying focused on the vision of the company or maintaining engagement with current projects and not getting distracted by other opportunities that may not be as productive.

Empathy

To create a good working relationship with employees, a good leader needs to understand their personal needs and experiences. Empathy makes you aware of how others are feeling so that you can better understand who you work with and how to help them perform well. An empathetic leader can also listen and relate to problems and differing perspectives without becoming judgemental.

Loyalty

A great leader recognises when an employee needs support and provides what is necessary to get that employee working at the appropriate level. Loyalty is also about standing up for employees when situations become stressful. In this way, a good leader can gain their employees' respect and trust by being loyal and considerate.

Empowerment

A leader has faith in their employees to work autonomously and deliver results according to the ethos of the leader. They never engage in micromanaging techniques that can undermine the performance of employees. Instead, they empower their teams by getting them to participate and including them in important decisions.

Decisiveness

The ability to make decisions that affect an organisation takes strength and internal fortitude. A great leader looks at their options, assesses the implications for the company and makes a prompt decision that will benefit the operation. As a leader, it's important to make well-informed decisions without doubting yourself so that the individuals you lead will be confident in your decisions.

Responsibility

Sometimes situations do not go the way they should, and someone has to take responsibility for the outcome. A leader is not immune to making bad decisions that lead to unfavourable situations. What makes a leader great is their ability to take responsibility for those decisions and not blame those who carried out their orders.

Vision

Having a clear vision for a company or a specific project is important as a leader because it shows that you are focused on what is most important when it comes to meeting your goals. A leader who maintains a strong vision and a drive to achieve their goals shows that they are ready to take on any challenge.

Influence

Being influential means that people listen to what you say, admire your style and want to adopt your methods into their own lives. When people want to imitate what you do or achieve the level of success you have attained, then you have successfully generated influence. An influential leader can motivate people to work toward a common goal or complete projects in a way that aligns with their goals.

Confidence

Having confidence in your abilities is necessary as a leader. When a leader displays confidence in themselves and those they lead, they can more easily influence others and achieve their goals. Employees have more faith in confident leaders and are more likely to perform to the best of their abilities.

Motivation

Employees want to feel that they are part of something bigger than themselves. A leader who effectively motivates their team instils them with confidence and pride and encourages them to work hard and achieve their goals. In turn, employees are more focused, interested and enthusiastic about their working roles, and they may be more likely to seek opportunities for advancement.

Positivity

Maintaining a positive attitude at work shows others that you have a good short- and long-term view toward a project or your company as a whole. If you are feeling good about what you are doing, others become inspired and encouraged to follow your lead by maintaining a positive outlook as well. Good leaders also spread positivity by praising success and hard work.

Resilience

A leader who can guide an organisation through good and bad times is one that demonstrates that they can put in the work to overcome any challenge. This type of leadership quality is vital for the ongoing survival of a company. A leader who shows their strength and willingness to push through setbacks is someone who inspires others to do the same.

Communication

A good leader should speak their mind and express themselves clearly and concisely. Whether you need to give a team directions, lead a meeting or talk to an employee alone, it is important to have strong communication skills so that you can express yourself and your ideas effectively and eloquently.

How to improve your leadership skills

Leadership is a soft skill that is not always easy to attain in a classroom setting. Practising what you learn is the best way to become an effective leader, but you can also shadow leaders within your organisation to learn how they apply their leadership skills to their work. The more confidence you have in your ability to lead, the more positively people will respond to your directives. Here are some ways to improve your leadership skills:

  1. Be decisive

  2. Listen to input

  3. Practise being a leader

  4. Seek out a mentor

  5. Share your knowledge with others

1. Be decisive

Making a decision and enforcing it can be uncomfortable at times. You might have to ask someone to take on more work or take them off of a project because they are underperforming. However, being decisive can help you gain respect from others because it shows that you are confident in your decisions and leadership abilities. If you need more input to make a decision, ensure that you can still make it in a timely fashion.

2. Listen to input

Taking input from others is an important part of the decision-making process that shows you know how to take guidance when needed. The more informed you are about an issue, the better your decisions will be for everyone involved.

3. Practise being a leader

If you want to become more authoritative, it is important to practise your skills. Do not wait to get into a role of authority before trying out your leadership skills. Instead, identify situations at work where no one is taking charge and be assertive. Point out possible problems, ask questions, and find out what people need so that you can fulfil their expectations as a leader.

4. Seek out a mentor

It is helpful to have someone to discuss leadership skills with once you start practising them. You can learn best from someone who has experience in a leadership role. A proven leader can explain how they engage people in lesser roles and encourage them to do better. A mentor is also available to answer your questions and guide you as you try out the techniques and skills they teach you.

5. Share your knowledge with others

A good leader should share as much information as possible in a collaborative environment. When you share your knowledge with others, you will be able to lead them more effectively to ensure there is no possible confusion or misinformation. It is important for your team to understand every aspect of the projects they work on, so sharing what you know will help improve their ability to handle their workload. It also helps improve your communication skills.

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