We’ve all heard that “great leadership qualities” are the secret to success. But what does it mean? Is it some kind of magic spell only a few can cast? I don’t think so. In fact, anyone can develop into a great leader. It’s not about being born with special privileges or having an impressive diploma on your wall. It’s about making good choices and taking meaningful daily actions that empowers teams to improve and work harder.  

Ever wondered what defines “great leadership qualities”? Stick around as we unpack this topic together. We’ll look at what differentiates exceptional leaders from average ones and how you can build these skills today. It’s not as tough as it seems; with awareness and effort, you’ll soon become the type of leader others admire.

Table Of Contents:

What Are the Great Leadership Qualities?

In my years of experience as a leadership expert, I’ve observed that awesome leaders always exhibit specific essential great leadership qualities. These characteristics distinguish them from merely good leaders.

What exactly sets great leaders apart from others? Here’s a breakdown of the top five essential great leadership qualities I’ve noticed among those who succeed:

Emotional Intelligence

Great leaders often possess strong emotional intelligence. They know their emotions, show empathy towards others, and manage their reactions well. This skill helps them understand the impact of what they say and do on those around them.

I’ve seen firsthand how leaders who lack emotional intelligence struggle to build trust and rapport with their teams. Conversely, emotionally intelligent leaders create a positive work environment where people feel valued and motivated to do their best.

Effective Communication Skills

Great leadership is distinguished by its ability to communicate effectively. Its leaders express their goals clearly, give clear directions that are easy to follow, and offer constructive criticism when needed. They also actively listen to keep the lines of communication open.

From my experience, the best communicators know how to tell a good story. They can break down complicated ideas and use their words to motivate others. If you work on your communication skills, you’ll find it boosts your leadership abilities.

Growth Mindset

Leaders with a growth mindset see challenges as chances to learn and improve. They understand that failure is part of the journey and push their teams to adopt this view, too. This approach builds an environment where innovation thrives and everyone keeps improving.

I once had the chance to work with a leader who truly lived by a growth mindset. She eagerly tackled new projects, even when they were outside her usual expertise. Her excitement rubbed off on everyone around her and motivated us all to push our boundaries, too. Adopting a growth mindset can help you reach your full potential as a leader.

Servant Leadership

Servant leadership means putting your team’s needs ahead of yours while offering them growth opportunities and the support they need to thrive. This way of leading creates an environment where trust flourishes, boosting overall loyalty in return.

One of the most inspiring leaders I’ve known practiced servant leadership. No matter how packed his schedule was, he always found time for his team. He truly cared about their personal and professional growth, and because of this, they consistently went above and beyond in their work. Adopting servant leadership can change your relationships and results.

Empowering Others

Great leaders understand they can’t handle everything by themselves. They boost their team members’ motivation and job satisfaction by delegating tasks, trusting their skills, and allowing them space to learn and grow.

One of the best ways to empower others is to give them the chance to make their own decisions. When people have control over their work, they care more about how it turns out. Learning to step back and let others take charge is an important skill for any leader.

These five essential great leadership qualities—emotional intelligence, communication skills, growth mindset, servant leadership, and empowering others—are the foundation of great leadership. By developing these traits, you’ll be well on your way to becoming the kind of good leader who inspires, motivates, and achieves extraordinary results.

8 Essential Qualities of Successful Leaders

So, what sets apart the good leaders from the truly great ones? In my experience, there are 8 key great leadership qualities that all successful leaders share. These are the leadership traits that I’ve consistently observed in the most effective leaders I’ve worked with over the years.

Here are some key great leadership qualities that define successful leaders:

  1. Vision: Great leaders have a clear, compelling vision for the future. They can see beyond the day-to-day and paint a picture of what’s possible. This vision inspires and motivates their team to work towards a common goal.
  2. Integrity: Successful leaders are honest, ethical, and transparent. They do what they say they’ll do and lead by example. Leader integrity builds trust and credibility, essential for effective good leadership.
  3. Decisiveness: Effective leaders are decisive. They gather information, weigh the options, and then make a clear decision. They’re not afraid to take calculated risks or make tough calls when necessary.
  4. Empathy: Great leaders have empathy for their team members. They seek to understand others’ perspectives and emotions. Empathy allows good leaders to build strong professional relationships and create a supportive work environment.
  5. Adaptability: In today’s fast-paced world, successful leaders must be adaptable. They’re open to new ideas, active listeners, willing to change course when needed, and can navigate uncertainty. Adaptability is key to staying ahead of the curve.
  6. Accountability: Effective leaders take responsibility for their actions and decisions. They hold themselves and others accountable for results. Accountability ensures that everyone is working towards the same goals and standards.
  7. Communication: As mentioned earlier, communication is a critical skill in good leadership. Successful leaders are clear, concise, and compelling in their communication. They listen as much as they speak and tailor their message to their audience.
  8. Continuous Learning: Great leaders are lifelong learners. They’re curious, open-minded, and always looking for ways to improve. They seek new knowledge and experiences to broaden their perspective and sharpen their skills.

Working on the eight essential great leadership qualities takes continuous effort. The best leaders are always fine-tuning their abilities and pushing themselves to grow. Concentrating on these crucial aspects will elevate your leadership skills significantly.

Leadership isn’t something you arrive at; it’s a continuous process. With patience and hard work on the right qualities, you can grow into a great leader who inspires people and accomplishes remarkable things.

How to Develop Effective Leadership Skills

Effective leaders are always on a path of growth. It takes knowing yourself well, being dedicated, and pushing past what’s familiar. Luckily, anyone can develop their leadership abilities through consistent effort.

If you want to develop your leadership skills, try these three effective great leadership qualities methods.

Put Leadership Skills Into Action

The best way to develop leadership skills is to jump right in and practice them. Look for chances to take charge, whether that’s spearheading a new project at work, stepping up for a community role, or guiding someone as their mentor. The more you lead, the more natural and confident you’ll feel.

When I kicked off my leadership journey, I decided to lead a cross-functional team at work. It was out of my comfort zone, but the learning experience was worth it. That project taught me a lot about effective communication, making decisions under pressure, and solving problems creatively. Don’t shy away from new challenges—they’re where you grow.

Ask for Feedback

Feedback offers an insightful glimpse into how others perceive us—it’s priceless. Routinely request comments from your team members along with insights from peers or mentors regarding aspects such as leadership methods or communication tactics; even ask specifically about recent choices made within projects.

I’ll never forget when one of my team members mentioned I seemed intimidating during our discussions. That advice truly hit home for me; it showed how important it is to create an inviting space where everyone feels comfortable sharing ideas. While asking for feedback isn’t always easy, it’s necessary if you want to become a better leader.

Attend Leadership Training

Enrolling in formal leadership training is a great way to boost your growth quickly. Choose programs that target areas you want to work on, such as communication skills, emotional intelligence, or strategic planning. Leadership development provides an organized setting for gaining knowledge and practicing with peers who share similar goals.

The various leadership development programs I’ve participated in have provided invaluable lessons. Not only did they equip me with practical strategies, but they also offered chances to network with peers, bringing diverse views on board. Given any opportunity for engaging such developmental courses, I would definitely recommend taking them because, ultimately, you’re betting positively upon your own self-growth and future achievements.

Developing as a leader takes time and effort. It’s about looking at yourself honestly, listening to what others say about you, and always picking up new knowledge. Use your skills daily; ask for input often; sign up for courses or workshops—these steps will help make you an effective leader.

Understanding Different Leadership Styles

One of the most important things to understand about leadership is that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Different situations and teams require different leadership styles. The best leaders can adapt their style to fit the needs of their team and the task at hand.

Let’s break down four popular leadership styles and see what makes each tick.

Transformational Leadership

Transformational leadership is centered on inspiring team members to accomplish amazing outcomes through motivation and support. Such leaders possess a clear vision, exude charisma, and keep their eyes set firmly on broad objectives—they challenge norms to foster innovative ideas.

One of the best examples of a transformational leader is Steve Jobs. He had a clear vision for Apple and was able to inspire his team to create groundbreaking products that revolutionized the tech industry. Transformational leadership is particularly effective in times of change or when a team needs to think outside the box.

Transactional Leadership

Transactional leadership operates on a give-and-take system of rewards and penalties. Leaders using this style set specific goals, offer incentives for hitting those targets, and emphasize efficiency to achieve quick results.

This leadership style works well in places like factories where clear rules and procedures exist. But, it might fall short when trying to spark creativity or handle more complicated problems.

Servant Leadership

Servant leadership puts team members’ growth and well-being first. These leaders work to empower their teams by providing the support and resources needed for success. They lead by example, always putting the team’s needs ahead of theirs.

When Cheryl Bachelder took over as CEO of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, she brought in a fresh leadership style that made all the difference. Putting her staff at the forefront and investing in their growth helped build a culture where everyone was committed to achieving great things together.

Creative Leadership

Leading creatively fosters an environment rich in new perspectives and inventive solutions. Creative leaders champion experimentation, accept the potential for failure, and always encourage learning along the way.

Creative leadership stands out in industries driven by innovation—like tech or design. Look at Ed Catmull from Pixar as an example. He created an environment brimming with creativity and cooperation, leading to iconic animated films we all love today.

Being an effective leader means knowing when to change your style. Sometimes, you need to take charge and give clear directions, while other times, it’s better to inspire and uplift your team. The best leaders can sense what each situation demands and adjust their approach accordingly.

Building your own leadership style means experimenting with various strategies. Pay close attention to what’s effective and what’s not while staying receptive to input from others. Over time, through trial and error, you’ll land on a leadership method that suits everyone involved.

Key Takeaway: 

Great leaders share key traits: emotional intelligence, strong communication skills, a growth mindset, servant leadership, and empowering others. You can inspire and motivate your team to achieve extraordinary results by developing these great leadership qualities.

Building Strong Relationships as a Leader

One of the top great leadership qualities is building strong relationships. It involves creating trust, listening carefully, celebrating achievements, and guiding others.

Building trust makes your team feel confident enough to take risks and develop fresh ideas. They know you’ve got their back no matter what happens.

Establishing Trust

Building trust is key for any strong relationship building between leaders and their team. As a leader, being open with your intentions, keeping your promises, and showing integrity in all you do makes all the difference.

When your team trusts you, they’re more engaged and loyal. They’ll go the extra mile. Research shows that employees in high-trust workplaces are more productive, have better energy at work, and stick around longer.

Active Listening

Active listening is crucial for building strong relationships as a leader. It’s about truly hearing your team and understanding their point of view.

When you give your team your full attention, ask questions to clarify any confusion, and show empathy, you’re showing that their thoughts and concerns matter. This builds trust and keeps communication open, both of which are crucial for a successful team.

Recognizing Success

Building strong professional relationships often starts with celebrating your team’s successes. When people see that you’re noticing all the effort they put in—whether publicly or privately—they feel valued and appreciated.

Showing appreciation to your team boosts their motivation and keeps them striving for excellence. It fosters a positive and supportive atmosphere, making it easier to keep top talent around.

Mentoring Others

If you’re leading a group, nothing beats the impact of mentoring. Offering up your insights boosts not only their professional abilities but also enriches them personally.

The benefits of mentoring extend beyond individual gains—it fortifies the entire group. Putting effort into developing your team guarantees people feel empowered and motivated to realize their full capabilities.

Nurturing potential leaders through mentoring helps build a reliable talent pipeline within your team. Identifying high-potential employees ensures that you’ll have capable successors lined up when the time comes.

The Importance of Communication for Leaders

Great leaders need to communicate effectively. You must share your vision, goals, and expectations with your team if you want them to succeed.

It’s not just about speaking; it’s also crucial to listen. Skilled communicators, especially great leaders, excel at active listening, giving helpful feedback, and encouraging open conversations within their teams.

Clear Vision

Having a clear vision is essential for any leader. When you can share that vision in a way that excites and energizes your team, it creates a strong sense of purpose and direction.

Make sure your vision is motivating and realistic, aligning with your organization’s values. A shared goal creates teamwork and purpose, driving everyone towards success.

Empowering Your Team

Empowering your team starts with providing them with the right tools, resources, and support. Trusting them with responsibilities and allowing them autonomy in their roles encourages a feeling of ownership and responsibility.

Empowering employees can significantly raise their enthusiasm and drive. It allows you to focus on long-term goals while fostering leadership skills among potential future managers in the organization.

Active Listening

Active listening plays a key role in effective leadership. Giving full attention to your team’s words while engaging with thoughtful questions shows that you’re invested in understanding their views—this naturally builds trust among everyone involved.

By actively listening, you can collect valuable input that aids in making informed decisions. Promoting a space where people feel comfortable speaking up means more shared ideas and concerns, ultimately resulting in positive outcomes across the board.

Humility

Great leaders know the power of humility in communication. They openly admit when they don’t have all the answers and welcome feedback and constructive criticism.

Speaking with humility fosters a culture of openness and transparency. Your team will feel at ease sharing their thoughts and worries, knowing that their voices matter.

Being humble helps build trust and respect. Owning up to your mistakes and learning from them shows your team that you’re human, too. It’s okay to make errors as long as you grow from the experience.

Cultivating a Growth Mindset as a Leader

With business moving so quickly, a growth mindset is an essential leadership skill for success. As a leader, you can’t just rely on great leadership qualities; you need to be flexible and willing to grow when things change.

Embracing a growth mindset means facing challenges and looking for new ways to learn and grow. It’s about seeing failures as stepping stones rather than setbacks. Encourage your team to adopt this outlook, too, so everyone can thrive together.

Continuous Learning

A big part of having a growth mindset is constantly learning new things. If you’re leading others, staying current on what’s happening in your field can make all the difference.

Learning constantly isn’t only about gaining information; it’s also about creatively putting what you’ve learned into practice. When you’re always growing, you can handle challenges better and come up with innovative solutions to issues that arise.

Embracing Challenges

Having a growth mindset means seeing challenges as chances to learn and grow. Instead of shying away from difficult tasks, you view them as ways to improve yourself and step out of your comfort zone.

Being ready for challenges also involves accepting the possibility of failure. You’ll dare to try bold moves and innovative concepts without fear holding you back. Mistakes then transform into stepping stones that enhance your skills over time.

Seeking Feedback

If you’re serious about fostering a growth mindset, seeking feedback is crucial. Regularly chatting with teammates or mentors helps pinpoint your leadership style’s strengths and areas for improvement.

You can’t just seek feedback—you have to be willing to take it in stride. You commit to hitting those personal and professional milestones by welcoming constructive comments and adjusting accordingly.

Leading by Example

Leading with a growth mindset means setting the standard yourself. Exhibiting the great leadership qualities you wish to see in your team members inspires them to follow suit and promotes continuous learning within your group.

To lead by example, one must take bold steps, tackle tough situations with courage, and learn from what doesn’t go right. It’s equally important to be open-minded when receiving feedback and always seek new growth opportunities in leadership development.

If you lead through action, your team will be inspired to do the same. This collective commitment drives an environment where new ideas flourish and improvements are constant, leading to lasting achievements. Effective leaders also maintain a positive mindset and frequently evaluate their own performance.

Key Takeaway: 

Build strong relationships by establishing trust, actively listening, recognizing success, and mentoring. This empowers your team to take risks and be innovative.

Conclusion

So, there, you have all the essential leadership qualities. The truth about “great leadership qualities” is that it’s not about being perfect or having all the answers. It’s about developing leadership skills by being authentic, empathetic, and willing to work. It’s about inspiring others to be their best selves and creating a culture of trust and respect.

Think of a leadership position as an ongoing journey rather than a destination. Every day offers new chances to lead, both in significant and minor ways. Step up confidently and use what makes you strong to bring positive change wherever you are in your career path. 

The world needs more leaders like you—passionate, purposeful, and committed to making a difference. So go out there and show us what you’re made of. We can’t wait to see what you’ll achieve.

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Author

Lomit is a marketing and growth leader with experience scaling hyper-growth startups like Tynker, Roku, TrustedID, Texture, and IMVU. He is also a renowned public speaker, advisor, Forbes and HackerNoon contributor, and author of "Lean AI," part of the bestselling "The Lean Startup" series by Eric Ries.