If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.~John Quincy Adams
We have seen many companies over the decades which could not compete with global competition. Among the ones that did succeed, most could not sustain their position in the market.
But leaders like Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, and Warren Buffet, with their vision, unshakable determination, and persistent hard work, led their respective companies to great heights. With their belief and strong leadership qualities, they gave a new dimension to the world of business.
This blog, though, is not about them but about the great leadership qualities that help people make their company great, achieve greatness, and bring new transformations in the world.
Before deep-diving into the leadership qualities, let's understand leadership in brief.
What is Leadership?
According to John Maxwell, "Leadership is influence - nothing more, nothing less."
Warren Bennis called it the capacity to translate vision into reality.
If you google the term 'leadership,' you will find endless leadership definitions by the great minds and leaders of our times.
But, after having worked with some great leaders and being in a leadership position myself, the understanding I have developed on the same is that-
"Leadership is the ability to influence the crowd to believe, act, and work with perseverance to meet the greater good."
Being a great leader is not a cakewalk. They must have effective leadership qualities that help them achieve higher goals and objectives. Be it resistance and persistence of Mahatma Gandhi or vision of Elon Musk.
Here is the list of 25 essential leadership qualities that help leaders to achieve greater success
Integrity is a core quality that every leader must possess. You cannot run any business successfully if you lack integrity. Self-development author, Brian Tracy says that whenever he holds a strategic business meeting, the first value every executive agrees on is integrity.
Business leaders know, and integrity is the foundation of good leadership, and they stand for what they believe. Leaders inspire with this active principle and never compromise no matter how tough the situation is. They never make false promises or take shortcuts. They choose their thoughts and actions based on values rather than personal gain. They always stick to their words and take the path that is ethically and morally right. This is a necessary quality that pays the dividend in the long run.
An innovative leader is not a creative genius with thought-provoking ideas but gives others the freedom to come up with their ideas. You would always find people with great ideas who lack the will, determination, and fear of taking any actions. But innovative leaders are not one of them.
Innovative people are always open to new ideas and discussions. They listen to everyone actively and also motivate others to think out of the box. This quality gives them an edge over others since they are always hunting for creativity and innovations. As the innovative leader, Steve Jobs himself said, 'Innovations distinguish between a leader and a follower.'
It would not be wrong to call honesty as one of the most essential leadership qualities. Honesty is a quality that is expected from the leaders. People trust and respect their leaders for their honesty and reliability. Moreover, we look upto people who are true to their words and are accountable. Thus, honesty is the most valued trait for any business leader or any leader in general.
Leadership can be defined in one word 'Honesty'. You must be honest with the players and honest with yourself. ~Earl Weaver
4. Active Listening
The roots of effective leadership lie in simple things, one of which is listening. Listening to someone demonstrates respect; it shows that you value their ideas and are willing to hear them. ~John Baldoni
Active listening is an excellent quality to have when it comes to leadership. Good leaders listen to people with great attention and sincerity. It helps them understand people and their perspectives. Active listening build trust and relationships. Great leaders communicate with care, focus on the person and the message; they don't interrupt and acknowledge what is being said. And that is what the world needs; leaders who listen to its people.
One thing that true leaders have abundantly is self-confidence. They are sure about their competencies and leadership skills. They have a sense of self-assurance and self-esteem and, most importantly, believe that they can make a difference. As Rosalynn Carter rightly said,
You have to have confidence in your ability, and then be tough enough to follow through.
Self-confidence is critical for leadership because it gives them wings to take risks, accomplish goals, and fly high. Organizational leaders take charge themselves and march with positivity and confidence. It allows them to make immediate decisions, solve organizational problems and conflicts. They don't pass the issues, ignore or procrastinate but take full responsibility and quick actions.
A leader should be Visionary and have more foresight than an employee. ~Jack Ma
A visionary leader is far-sighted and driven and inspired by what a company can become. Visionary leaders work hard for the greater good and keep themselves updated with time and change. Ensuring a vision for the future with perseverance and keeping everybody invested in the process is what a visionary leader does.
A visionary leader does not hold back to take risks and unconventional decisions.
7. Strong Communicator
We all know how important it is to be an excellent communicator. An effective leader knows how to put across his message. They are good orators and communicate to get his/her work done. They are not harsh; they choose words and expressions which suit the situation and allow others to express their thoughts and ideas.
They understand how important it is to have good communication skills.. They are very conscious and learn from others’ behaviors, which gives them a deep understanding of human complexities.
The ability to delegate effectively is a great leadership quality. A good leader who knows how to delegate wisely and make the best out of it. Delegation is crucial for maximizing productivity and team performance. Also, a leader is the busiest person in any organization. Therefore knowing when and how to delegate gives them more time for their most important work.
Also, an essential factor to note here is that the ability to delegate does not limit to delegating tasks to others. It also means having the awareness and understanding of who has the necessary skills and expertise to complete the task. Mindful delegation is vital to save time and future inconveniences.
9. Decision-making Skill
Great leaders are decisive and know how to help the organization, employees, stakeholders, and customers.
You would never envision a leader who is unclear and uncertain. Great leaders are aware of the fact of how their decisions can make or break businesses. They evaluate a given circumstance many a time before coming to any conclusion. They collect the necessary information required before making any announcements. Also, they do not believe rumors but examine a situation or a problem themselves before making a decision.
10. Problem-Solving Skills
Leadership roles are not only limited to management or delegating. Today for any business leaders, the spectrum of leadership responsibilities have evolved. For the proper functioning of an organization, leaders must have problem-solving skills and an eye for analyzing the situation to make better decisions. When it comes to effective leadership, problem-solving skills are crucial.
Good leaders have this innate ability to respond to problems. They are equipped with the ability to identify and define problems. Make the analysis, use data, and communicate to solve the issues.
Cultivating strong problem-solving skills is vital for any leader to eliminate barriers.
11. Fair Attitude
We all have personal biases. One who can think and act beyond this loop is what makes them different from the crowd. These biases are one of the factors why all the leaders can't become great.
Great leaders are fair to the employees and the organization's processes. They acknowledge the good and always make room for everyone to thrive together.
They understand that nothing significant has ever been achieved with an attitude that is unfair and biased. Even if it does, the sustainability of the outcome is always questionable.
Good leaders keep biases and unfairness out of the window and create a culture that does not promote or acknowledge this attitude.
Have you ever watched great leaders sharing stories and their experiences in Ted-talks? I presume you have. If you haven't, I recommend you do it.
You would realize how knowledgeable and curious these leaders are. And how they are always open to learning new things. Their thoughts, ideas, and perceptions are unique and thought-provoking.
The reason behind this is their inquisitiveness and curiosity from life. They pursue various interests and keep themselves invested in it. They are open to broadening their spectrum through art, technology, and science. And, in fact, all the world's know-how.
This quality helps them build a rational and positive attitude towards any problems.
The great leaders of business, industry, and finance, and the great artists, poets, musicians and writers all became great because they developed the power of self-motivation. ~Napoleon Hill
One of the essential leadership traits of great leaders is their ability to motivate others. Good leaders always motivate their employees and boost their morale when needed. They sail their boat smoothly, even in hazardous situations. They keep themselves self-motivated and set an example to follow.
Humble leaders make the best leaders. This statement is not something I am claiming to be true. In his seminal book 'Good to Great,' Jim Collins shows extensive research data on how humble and willful leaders help their companies grow and sustain their position in the market.
Humility is not the first trait that comes to mind when we think about leadership. But it is one of the essential qualities of a good leader. It may be because humility often gets overshadowed by the flamboyance of the celebrated leadership qualities.
Humble and willful leaders understand the fact that leadership is all about working for the greater good. They lead to transform, not dominate. They are aware of their strengths and weaknesses and always yearn to learn and contribute more.
15. Care for Others
The best leaders have a high consideration factor. They care about their people. ~Brian Tracy
Great leaders understand the value of the balance between work and life. They know how important is the health and wellness of the people associated with the organization. They inspire their team members and make sure the staff, clients, beneficiaries, and customers feel trusted.
They understand the importance of appreciating and recognizing employees and creating mutual respect and understanding within the organization.
They work towards giving them an environment where everyone can flourish.
Good leadership is in developing discipline in others. Good leaders are self-disciplined and have good time management skills. They encourages a culture where people are disciplined. This is a quality in which people can adapt themselves with persistence. When you are self-disciplined and set an example, you motivate others to follow.
Great leaders always have self-discipline -without exception. ~John C. Maxwell
In an organization where everything is fast-paced, and employees get occupied with so much workload, being more disciplined can help achieve more and keep the work environment at ease.
17. Emotional Intelligence
Emotional Intelligence is the capability to identify, manage, evaluate, and understand our own emotions and the people around us.
According to the psychologist, Daniel Goleman, EI has five components-
- Motivation and
- Social skills
Good leaders are self-aware, act in control, take calculated decisions without getting carried away. They understand other's perspectives without being cynical. They are self-motivated and have strong social skills, which help them build connections and healthy relationships.
These explain that great leaders have a high degree of Emotional Intelligence. This is why EI is one of the essential leadership attributes.
Passion is a common leadership trait that you would see in any great leaders across the world. They are highly passionate about their goals and objectives. They know what they want and work tirelessly to achieve those. Their passion is infectious and also very inspiring. They are highly committed to their goals and also help others in achieving theirs.
Passionate leaders elevate productivity and ensure that the employees commit to their vision. Passion helps leaders to instill motivation in their employees and helps to achieve the desired vision.
Leaders must be tough enough to fight, tender enough to cry, human enough to make mistakes, humble enough to admit them, strong enough to absorb the pain, and resilient enough to bounce back and keep on moving. ~Jesse Jackson
One must understand their own self before taking responsibility for others. Resilient leaders are perceptive and also know how to handle themselves in any good or bad situation.
Resilient leaders are capable of retaining their energy level under strain and responding to disruptive changes. They also overcome severe challenges without destructive behavior or hurting others. Resilient leaders are high performing leaders who recover from any adversity positively.
Being an accountable leader is not an easy task. It means that you have the resolve to own up to commitments and promises that you have made. It means being answerable to the actions and decisions made by you and by those you lead. Accountable leaders establish clear goals and targets. They focus on the future and also own up to their mistakes. They ask for help when needed and provide honest and constructive feedback.
Accountibility is the glue that ties commitment to the result. ~Bob Practor
Leadership without support is like trying to make bricks without enough straw. True leaders reinforce their ideas and plans with strategic partnerships, alliances, and supportive audiences. ~Reed Markham
Supportive leaders give the guidance that you need. Supportive leaders mentor you, guides you till you need little to no supervision in the future. They do not believe in delegating tasks and expecting results right away. They are with you in the process and support you with their knowledge and experiences. Supportive leadership involves building trust among the team members and encouraging dialogue to keep the team spirit high. The fundamentals of supportive leadership are, therefore, promoting teamwork, building relationships, and commitment.
For digital transformation, the world needs Tech-Savvy leaders. Today's leader needs to understand the technology sufficiently to sustain their business. The organization's technology decisions must be guided with a strategy and transforming its analog experience into a digital. The majority of the companies worldwide are digital today, and it will only grow exponentially with time. Therefore, it becomes evident that business leaders enhance technological skills for sustainability and making better decisions.
Our future success is directly proportional to our ability to understand, adapt, and integrate new technology into our work. ~Sukant Ratnakar
Empathy is a core leadership trait that helps you nurture your team. Empathy is in understanding others' needs and what goes into their mind. We live in a world with a constant communication loop, and people interact with each other at much ease. But at the same time, people are less empathetic towards each other. Many communicate to express but not to understand others perspectives.
Empathetic leaders are perceptive, and they are aware of other's feelings and thinking. Being empathetic does not always mean to agree on other's views, but to appreciate and have a willingness to understand.
Leadership is about empathy. It is about having the ability to relate to and connect with people for the purpose of inspiring and empowering their lives. ~Oprah Winfrey
24. Learning Agility
Agile leaders make the best response to organizational change and uncertainty. Today we need leaders who are quicker in decision-making and who can take immediate action in crisis times. We live in a fast-paced world, and work trends are evolving in no time. Therefore there is little time for all to take calculated decisions. Also, the strategies and policies that worked well in the past can be obsolete today. One of the visible examples is the Covid-19 crisis. The crisis had changed the landscape of work culture, and leaders had to find new strategies to fight the storm overnight.
The future of work will always be uncertain and ambiguous. Future events will bring new challenges. Organizations now will only thrive in the future under the supervision of leaders who can make sense of uncertainty.
Great leaders can empower their team members to achieve maximum productivity and organizational success.
Empowerment is giving the team members equal opportunities in decision making and using their power of judgment and expertise to come up with solutions. This builds the sense of individual worth and also employees' commitment towards their organization. Every individual brings their skills and talents to the table that often finds a route to flow. Usually, you would have skillful team members, but lack of guidance and motivation fails to bring them the best.
It is, therefore, on leaders how they foster these skills by empowering them. Good leaders know how to unleash positive traits in others. They understand that the only way to do that is by empowering them. Therefore, leaders take it as a daily practice to continuously empower people and strengthen the team.
As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others. ~Bill Gates
Every leader has an urge to lead, inspire, and contribute to the greater good. And this is why you need the right leadership qualities to guide you. No one can own all these leadership qualities.
It is a consistent effort and self-belief that paves the path. Leaders should, therefore, be mindful and exercise these leadership skills for sustainable growth.
If you have reached here, I would like to presume that you have gained some new perspectives on these critical leadership qualities.
Do write your thoughts below if you have some more exciting and informative views on the same.
For some motivation read: 50 leadership Quotes To Inspire The Leader Within You