Leadership Qualities: Skills that Make a Great Leader

This article covers a great leader's essential qualities and skills to succeed. To interact positively with clients, employees, and team members, leaders need to have a solid set of leadership skills.

According to behavioral theories, some leadership skills can be learned and taught, while others fall under the umbrella of natural charisma.

While I have compiled a list of the most crucial leadership skills, some of them stand out more, some of them are trainable, while the lack of some skills in this list would be a deal-breaker.

In my life, I have had my fair share of experiences with leaders in the tech industry while studying history and human nature. I can think of very few people who would score excellent marks in all leadership areas. You would find many of those in very unrelatable positions (visionaries, revolutionaries, narcos, and more).

The one name that kept coming to my mind while writing this article was an athlete. Tom Brady, in my eyes, is one of the very few people worldwide that own most of the skills we are about to discuss. And even Tom may be about to do something selfish at the time of this article's writing.

Speaking of deal-breakers in the leadership department, some of the seven deadly sins would top the list; envy, greed, and pride are characteristics you would want to suppress or eliminate.

Considering that most people can't change, it is essential to mask some of these characteristics or lack empathy and emotional intelligence.

Meanwhile, you can improve communication and problem-solving skills, but decision-making is directly associated with the latter. As a result, even the swiftest decision-maker would be compromised as a leader if those decisions backfire.

What Qualities Make a Great Leader?

No matter how you define leadership, it is clear that specific individuals can significantly impact the lives of others.

Although we all live different lives, leaders can offer guidance and advice.

Although some leaders are naturally gifted, anyone can learn leadership skills. It doesn't matter how many times you've led before. Leadership traits and characteristics are essential to building influential leaders. These are the things you can do to make a difference in the lives of others.

These are the essential leadership qualities and skills you should look for in a great leader.

Effective Communication & Active Listening.

There are many non-verbal cues. However, expressing yourself freely and building empathy with others is the foundation for effective leadership. What is an essential part of communication?

Strong leaders listen to and pay attention to their employees and followers and all those they lead. Great leaders and great leaders are not created.

Empathy is the best way to get people following you. It's all about making them feel heard.

Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People is my favorite quote. “Talk to someone about yourself, and they will listen for hours.”

This is 100% true. People will gravitate to you if they see you making eye contact and showing genuine interest in their lives. They'll be more likely to share their stories with you. They will feel inspired and heard, and they will begin to trust and know you.

On the other hand, people will shut down and stop sharing their thoughts if you don't show interest in any personal stories told by others, make no eye contact, and act like you don't care.

A leader must communicate well. If you want your followers to rely on you, you must be a great communicator.


Intuition is the foundation of success. Honest leaders live up to their core values and lead by example.

Integrity is the foundation of all leadership qualities.

Many things to look out for in trustworthy people, such as:

  • Apologizing for making mistakes
  • Highlighting the most significant work of their employees and downplaying their own
  • When circumstances are not clear
  • Appreciating people's time


Good leaders hold the team accountable for their results, whether they are good or not.

They hold their employees and themselves accountable for their actions.

They are able to give credit where credit is due, and they can take responsibility for any mistakes. Building trust with your team is one of the fastest ways leaders can be great leaders.

Being accountable for the actions and behavior of others is essential for developing leadership skills.

Empathy & Emotional Intelligence.

Emotional intelligence allows us to recognize, manage, evaluate, and understand our emotions and others'.

Daniel Goleman (psychologist) says that EI comprises five components.

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-regulation
  • Empathy
  • Motivation and
  • Social skills

Successful leaders are self-aware, can control their actions, and make calculated decisions. They can see the bigger picture and not be skeptical. They are self-motivated, have strong social skills, and help to build relationships and connections.

This explains why leaders with high levels of emotional intelligence are considered to be good leaders. EI is, therefore an essential leadership attribute.

Empathy goes beyond being nice, and it means understanding and can be one of the most critical leadership qualities. Few leaders know the difference between being kind and emotional intelligence.

Leaders scoring high in the EI end empathy departments can:

  • Better predictions
  • Improve teamwork strategies
  • Encourage loyalty within their teams
  • Improve their negotiation techniques
  • Enhance creativity

Putting yourself in other people's shoes helps create a more human environment that encourages team members to be more productive and leaders to thrive. Developing the leadership ability of emotional intelligence is one outstanding leadership attribute you can have.

Empathy with people is a crucial ingredient of leadership.

As a borderline and bipolar person, though, I can assure you that even people with lower EI and empathy (allegedly) can thrive in leadership.

For instance, an employee is always 15 minutes late; some great leaders won't immediately blame them. However, Bill Belichick would cut you from the team if you were late in one team meeting. Yet BB's greatest subordinate was another great leader and the best football player of all time.

As a result, the appropriate structure can sometimes alleviate leadership deficiencies and lack of specific characteristics.

Perhaps they are dealing with personal struggles at home, car problems, or health issues. Genuine leaders have a deep understanding of their team's motivations and are compassionate with them.

Understanding others is more important than human communication.


It is easy to get smitten with a title or status for leadership development. However, a lack of humility is one of the best ways to alienate your coworkers and subordinates and introduce dysfunction to any team.

Great leadership styles are focused on team dynamics and problem-solving more than self-promotion. If a leader is more concerned about their own well-being than the well-being of their team, they will not be effective. Leaders who are open and honest with their team will be likable and persuasive.


There is beauty in the struggle.

What makes a leader grit is not their performance during good times but how they pull through when things get tough. Resilience is closely associated with passion, confidence, and competitive spirit. Extending these attributes to your team and viewing human personnel as an extension of yourself in these areas will work wonders in navigating a team, primarily through the phases of a crisis.

Positive leaders lead by example and rally their team regardless of the situation. This positivity allows me to react calmly to tricky situations and focus on solutions rather than problems.

Experience is an excellent source of leadership skills.


Good leaders can motivate others. This is one of the most essential leadership skills. When needed, good leaders motivate their employees and increase their morale. They can navigate their boat well, even in dangerous situations. They are self-motivated and set an example for others.


I wanted more. Sinaloans are like that. – Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo (Narcos: Mexico, Season 2, Episode 10)

While the above quote may not make much sense to some in a business-oriented environment, note that Gallardo was called “El Jefe des Jefes” for a reason. Vision.

True leaders instill loyalty, enthusiasm, and commitment. They remind people of the bigger picture and challenge them to do better. You could describe vision as a leadership quality people assume you have been born with.

However, each great leader must develop vision and foresight to be a leader. It requires a lot of hard work to become a visionary of the highest caliber for their organization and the people who work with them.

Creating a vision and inspiring others to act is a hallmark of successful leaders.


Leaders believe they have the right to leadership qualities if they reach a certain level. This is false.

Leadership is not synonymous with influence. Respect must be earned and not given.

These are some ways leaders can increase their influence:

  • State clearly what you want
  • Connect with people emotionally
  • Make other people feel important
  • Be charismatic and vulnerable
  • Toward common goals
  • Submit suggestions
  • Create lasting, genuine relationships
  • Be professional on social media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn
  • Have self-awareness

Learning Agility.

Agile leaders can best manage organizational change and uncertainty. Leaders must be quick to make decisions and react quickly in times of crisis. Our world is fast-paced, and the work trends are changing quickly. There is not enough time to make well-informed decisions. Strategies and policies that worked in the past may not be applicable today. The Covid-19 crisis is one of these visible examples. The crisis changed work culture and required leaders to develop new strategies to combat the storm.

The future of work will remain uncertain and ambiguous. Future events will present new challenges. Leaders who can make sense of uncertainty will ensure that organizations thrive in the future.


Leaders inspire others based on their goals and outcomes and their behavior, outlook, and attitude.

Many people believe that employees and their direct reports reflect the behavior of their bosses. Leaders need to set an example and show respect for their team.

It all comes down to positivity. It all boils down to positivity.

A positive attitude is not something to be ignored or deemed unimportant. On the contrary, a positive attitude signifies that you are strong, even in difficult situations. It indicates that you can keep your head up and lead your people even when things don't go according to plan.


Many leaders find it challenging to transition from leading to doing.

Many new leaders tend to do all the work and cannot delegate. Great leaders need to elevate their team. They must be more critical and less involved.

Leaders must help others think and act in a beneficial way to the common good. Leaders give their team all they need and let them do the rest. They don't direct their paths but set clear expectations and explain where they are headed.

They don't fear their subordinates' success and don't feel threatened. Good leadership includes delegating tasks to their team and elevating them. Teams shine when they are allowed to contribute in the best way.


You must take control and roll up your sleeves to be a leader. You must be confident enough to take charge and know that your vision and plans are viable for the team.

You must be confident in all situations. Great leaders can be confident in any situation, even when uncomfortable or fearful.

People will quickly notice if you lack self-confidence when in a leadership position. Self-confidence is a matter of “make it or break it,” which is a 100% true statement. You will manage stressful situations better if you have faith in yourself.

Leaders don't just talk about the problems but also develop real solutions.


The most successful leaders around the globe share a common trait: passion. They are passionate about their goals. They are clear about what they want and will work hard to get it. Their passion is infectious, and it's inspiring. They are committed to their goals and help others achieve theirs.

Passionate leaders increase productivity and help employees to believe in their vision. Leaders can instill passion in their employees to help them achieve their vision.


Open-mindedness is a crucial quality for leadership. It is essential to listen and understand the point of view of others, even if you don't agree with or believe their statements.

This will allow you to learn more about the people you work with and help you communicate better. Open-mindedness is the key to success in an organization that has cross-functional teams.

Be open to new ideas and concepts rather than rejecting them.

Open-mindedness includes:

  • Being able to adjust your decision-making process when necessary and be willing to make changes. People who come up with innovative ideas need someone to listen and facilitate their thinking. Not just dismiss it, but take the time to understand it fully.
  • Learning how to understand the complexity of issues and how people might interpret them.
  • Listening to other opinions before you dismiss them.
  • Respecting other opinions and ways to think even if they are not yours.
  • Seeing all sides before you make a decision. Communicate your reasons clearly without being rigid or closed-minded.

Being a great leader requires open-mindedness. Being a great leader requires listening skills and the ability to take the time to listen to others' opinions without being judgmental.


Leaders are driven to inspire others and lead. This is why it is essential to have the exemplary leadership qualities that guide you. These leadership qualities are not all possible.

Consistent effort and self-belief are the keys to success. Leaders should be aware of and practice these leadership skills for sustainable growth.

Leadership Qualities

Frequently Asked Questions

Answers & Definitions

What's the best definition of leadership?

Leadership is best defined as the act of motivating others towards a common goal. Leadership skills are characterized by a strong personality and motivating others.

Why is leadership important?

The importance of leadership lies in its ability to lead individuals and teams to achieve their goals by inspiring and motivating them. Leaders must understand the needs of their organizations, the capabilities, and requirements of their employees or members, and how to maximize each person's abilities in order to achieve those goals. By motivating individuals to achieve their potential, leadership can potentially increase profits, boost retention, and maximize recruiting efforts by making a company a rewarding workplace and making it an enjoyable place to work.

What industries value leadership?

Good leadership is beneficial to almost all types of institutions. Large businesses and organizations, including large companies and hospitals, usually have visible leadership outcomes. However, small businesses typically require strong leadership to succeed as well.

What is leadership?

Leaders encourage others to follow a particular path in their lives. These skills and leadership qualities are vital because humans require specific individuals to lead and help others. It is challenging to manage large groups of people, establish unified goals, and progress without leaders.

What should leaders do?

Leaders can help their organization and team make progress and act positively. Leaders who are good at leading others should have a clear vision, establish clear goals and direction, and plan a path for their group or team.

What is the difference between a leader and a manager?

A leader is merely a person who leads, but a manager must have the leadership skills to inspire their team and motivate them to do better. Managers who are good at managing people should be compassionate, show empathy, demonstrate the behavior they expect from their team, take ownership for their actions, delegate effectively and praise when necessary.

It is essential to get to know each team member and understand their motivations.

What should leaders not do?

Leaders must act in a particular manner. There are also some undesirable qualities leaders should avoid. These are some of the most important:

  • Failing to set clear goals and objectives for their teams.
  • Insult or degrade people.
  • Do not praise too often
  • You shouldn't act out or display behavior that you don't expect of your team members.
  • Do not meet regularly with subordinates.
  • Failing to take decisive action.
  • Do not be afraid to act or show empathy

Who can become a leader?

With sufficient skill, experience, and drive, any individual can become a successful leader. Individuals may be more inclined to enjoy the responsibilities of leadership in varying degrees. It is also common for some elements of leadership to be more enjoyable than others. Even individuals without formal leadership titles can demonstrate leadership characteristics by motivating and empowering their coworkers. Real answer: The dedicated few.

What is the relationship between leaders and followers?

Change agents are those who guide their followers to new heights, while at the same time developing and growing their followers. A leader's two primary objectives should be to make the organization successful and, in the event they depart the organization, to have trained and developed others who can easily fill their roles upon departure.

Anastasios Antoniadis
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