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25 Qualities that Make a Great Leader

Do you have these Qualities in YOU?

25 Qualities that Make a Great Leader

Hellen Keller once correctly said, “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence”. Confidence is the linchpin of leadership. The first and foremost quality that every leader should have is to believe in oneself. If a leader is confident, his or her followers are more inspired from him and trust their actions. Self-confidence is more important forte than skills, knowledge and abilities.

A leader is the one who directs other. If he or she is not focused or concentrated, they will not be able to lead the team well. One should have a proper balance wherever required. The term focus is broadly divided into three categories: focus on oneself, focus on others and focus on the extensive world. If focus on oneself is missing, then it is understood as a complacent attitude. If focus on others is missing, it leaves the leader clueless. Whereas, not focusing on outside world shall leave one blindsided.

“Pessimism leads to weakness, optimism leads to power” – William James

It is always said that a right attitude is very important. One who is optimistic is full of energy and is not fearful of the uncertainties and threats in life. They take each challenge and aspires to complete them. An optimistic person is progressive. Whereas, a pessimistic person is fearful and doesn’t take challenge easily and is always stuck somewhere. Optimistic people usually see the bigger picture. They see the road ahead, which is very important for leaders.

One cannot motivate others if he or she is not motivated. One who is self-motivated aspires to do things better than everyone else. Self-motivation increases productivity and confidence and reduces stress. If a leader is not self-motivated, he or she is always dull and there’s no energy. This in turn demotivates the entire team.

A leader has several responsibilities. The list is so long that it cannot be listed. Every leader works, but the one who manages time efficiently and effectively succeeds. Time is something which is constant, cannot be reversed and doesn’t have any substitute to it. Every leader should have a time management plan and should follow it. He or she should prioritise work and should meet deadlines.

Passion is a deep driver of one’s behaviour that distinguishes the great leaders from average ones. A person without passion is said to have lack of energy, loss of creativity, loss in motivation and ultimately burnout (stress).

“You have to be burning with an idea, or a problem, or a wrong that you want to right. If you’re not passionate enough from the start, you’ll never stick it out”. – Steve Jobs

A line so strong, influencing and conveying such a correct message given by Gunnar Lovelace, co-CEO and co-founder, Thrive Market:

“Our employees are a direct reflection of the values we embody as leaders. If we’re playing from a reactive and obsolete playbook of needing to be right instead of doing what’s right, then we limit the full potential of our business and lose quality talent. If you focus on becoming authentic in all your interactions, that will rub off on your business and your culture, and the rest takes care of itself.”

Integrity is defined as the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. A leader with this quality goes a long way ahead.

In the end, the one who is patient wins. It is usually mistaken that patience and leadership don’t go hand in hand. Well, one cannot be more mistaken than this. P.A.T.I.E.N.C.E. as explained: purpose, approachability, tolerance, empathy, nurturing nature, confidence and endurance. We all know these are the most important qualities that every leader must exhibit.

“Patience is necessary, and one cannot reap immediately where one has sown.” – Soren Kierkegaard

In this fast world, where so much is possible with just a click, making decisions in a snap can turn to be the worst decisions. One should always be patient.

What we generally plan, may not happen. A smart leader is one who is flexible. He is the one who can change according to the situation and can accept reality. Every problem may not have the same routine solution. Sometimes, one has to think the other way round and accept some facts, which are difficult to be accepted. If a leader is flexible, he or she may get solutions which are better than the previous ones.

“To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

A leader should primarily inspire his or her team to move in a similar direction and work together and not in fragments. If the element of inspiration is missing, it is said that there is a lack of mutual agreement among the followers.

Stoicism means to endure pain and hardship without showing it to others and without complaining about it. Stoicism is a concept which has evolved from ancient Greek philosophy. Before a leader controls others or any other events, he or she must control themselves first. Even if a leader is losing hope, confidence or is doubtful it should never be showed to others.

In short, open-mindedness can be defined as being unprejudiced to new ideas. A leader who is open-minded towards others, their innovative ideas and concepts can have a great influence on his or her team. Team members have a sense of accountability and empowerment. Working relations and trust among the teams even increase. An open-minded leader never demotivates his or her team.

A successful leader is one who can make decisions quickly and effectively. A good leader is one who is unsurpassable and commendable. This quality is not only required in superior cases but also in day to day working. From fostering constructive conflicts to exercising sound judgement the decisive quality of leader comes into the picture. While making decisions, the law of Proportional Decision Making comes into the picture. According to this law, the amount of time invested in making a decision should be proportional to its outcome.

Charm and grace in a leader is something which cannot be ignored. Charisma is often mistaken with good looks. A charismatic leader gathers attention because of his or her personality rather than because of power or external appearance. A charismatic leader structures the organizations as they see fit.

Charisma is the result of effective leadership, not the other way around.” – Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus.

A successful leader is one who persists even through the storms and they don’t give up easily. At times there is no one by the leader’s side, then his or her persistence needs to be impenetrable. There may be times when a leader is surrounded by negative people. Persistence takes a leader long way. It is something which develops with time.

Communication is the key in a leader’s success. They can be broadly divided into three categories: self-communication skills, one-to-one communication skills and general or public communication skills. Self-communication is necessary for building up one’s self-esteem and self-confidence. Private communication skills are required to create a relationship based on trust. For a one-to-one communication to be successful, communication must be done by both the parties. Group communication skills are important to inspire others.

Accountability is the obligation of a person to be responsible for his or her acts. A leader should be accountable for all acts both good and bad. A leader cannot blame second party or external circumstances. He or she should be accountable for their actions, choices and behaviour. In addition to this, a leader should also be accountable for the actions of their team. Accountability actually differentiates great leaders from average leaders.

Charles Hadfield said, “Ultimately leadership is not about glorious crowning acts. It’s about keeping your team focused on a goal and motivated to do their best to achieve it, especially when the stakes are high and the consequences really matter. It is about laying the groundwork for others’ success, and then standing back and letting them shine.”

A leader cannot do anything without his or her team. A team can definitely achieve more than what an individual can win alone. A leader should be able to manage his team effectively and he should be capable of bringing the best out of them.

A leader should be self-reliant, self-sufficient and self-confident. These qualities make a leader innovative and will help him to make the best out of a situation. Independent leaders are the most successful ones. If a leader isn’t independent, then he cannot make decisions by himself. He will be always influenced by others. As a leader being dependent on others doesn’t give a positive feedback.

A supportive leader is not the one who dominates his or her team. He supports his or her team and in return reduces stress and frustration. Supportive leaders create great interpersonal relationships. They lead people; they don’t drive them. This concept can be explained with the help of path-goal theory. A leader designs a plan and sets a goal. Further, he sets the path, policies, and procedures through which the goal can be achieved. During this time a leader should be supportive. He or she should be able to guide and help his or her team whenever required.


“If speaking is silver; then listening is gold.”

A leader should be an active listener. He or she should listen to understand the situation and not just to reply. They should listen to the minute details that are being shared by the team. They should not dominate their team by commanding. It is a simple philosophy, to talk less and to listen more. By being a good listener, a leader not only comes to know what the team thinks about him or her but also the level of their commitment towards the goal.

Someone rightly told, “To be a good leader, we need to be a good teacher; To be a good teacher, we need to be a good student; To be a good student, we need to be a good questioner; To be a good questioner, we need to be a good listener”

A leader should have a sense of direction. The whole point to be a leader is to be where you want to be in comparison to where you are. They must know what they are doing and why they are doing it. There should be a definite vision. They must be prepared to handle the opportunities and threats that may come up tomorrow.

People want to follow leaders who are honest. An honest leader embarks a lot of integrity. People follow him and are influenced by him. Honesty is essential to a leader’s legitimacy, credibility, and ability to develop trust with followers. Honesty in broader terms can be quoted as sincerity, truthfulness, integrity, frankness, candour, and openness.

A fair-minded leader is rational, unprejudiced and forgives others. They earn the respect of their followers through their expertise, personal integrity and ability to foster trust rather than demanding it. They don’t dominate others

Courageous leaders are those who are not afraid to take risks. They should be bold and daring. No leader can be great if they are timid. They should have a sense of fearlessness in them. People look up to leaders who are courageous. Courage is a necessary trait of effective leadership.

“Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.” –DR. MAYA ANGELOU

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