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What Makes a Good Leader?

There has been more than a little debate over the years as to what makes a good leader. And a brief look at many of the definitions out there shows that it’s certainly not a one-size fits all role. Good leaders take many different forms that can be dependent on the industry, goals and team dynamics.

What we can do is distil most of what we know into a loose list of skills and qualities that make a good leader. Which is what we have done here. In this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at each and exploring how they can be used to get the most out of a team while working towards a goal.

Want to know what makes a good leader truly great? Read on for our list of 10 skills and qualities that do just that – then see how you can apply them to your leadership role!


10 Skills and Qualities of a Good Leader

1. Confidence
Confidence in one of the biggest skills a leader can possess. When you have a team behind you, their confidence grows organically from yours. So, demonstrating this quality in everything you do is certainly a catalyst to success.
This begins with confidence in yourself, and your ability to the job, and extends to confidence in your decision process and assertiveness when assigning roles and tasks.

2. Decisiveness
Being an effective leader is all about making smart, informed decisions with confidence. That means gathering all the information you need to help you decide and standing by it once it is done.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you can’t ask for help when making decisions, though! In fact, the very best leaders listen to the expertise of colleagues and stakeholders around them and take this into consideration before moving forward.

3. Empathy
Leaders who rule by fear soon run into problems as they move down the line. On the other hand, leaders with empathy, who go the extra mile to connect with their team members and understand what motivates them, ultimately thrive.

Empathy is an incredibly human trait and demonstrating it shows that you care and are passionate about the wellbeing of your team members. That means making time for them, actively listening, responding sensitively and taking steps to help where possible.

Demonstrating genuine interest in the people around you and giving ample opportunity for candid feedback is a winning way to keep people on-side and performing.


4. Passion
Passion is contagious. And as a leader, consistently showing your passion for what you are doing (and what others are doing) is essential to keeping a team energised and motivated. Not only that, passion removed from ego – in other words, a genuine verve for your job and projects – helps you to stay agile and on task, keeping you one step ahead of the competition and motivating yourself to move forward regardless of the kind of challenges that may lie ahead.

5. Knowledge of the team
Knowledge of your team, their strengths, weaknesses, personal ambitions and goals is paramount to success as a leader. When you are aware of what your team is good at, you can put it to good use. When you know what may be demotivating for someone, you can anticipate it and ensure the correct support is in place.

Knowing what makes people in your team tick also helps you to incentivise them and reward them – an essential part of leadership.

6. A clear vision
Before you can begin leading in earnest, it’s vital to have a clear vision and purpose. This means stepping back and looking at the bigger picture, understanding where things are heading, where you want to take them and the impact that will have on those around you.

Articulating this as far as possible to your team is important too, particularly if substantial changes are to be made. People are much more responsive when they feel informed and involved. One of the best ways to do this is to formulate a strategy and then communicate the what’s and why’s to the appropriate people before any major overhauls are undertaken.


7. Humility and self-awareness
Good leaders always keep in mind the effects their decisions have on others and take this into account. This means setting your ego aside and acting selflessly in some situations. It also means demonstrating empathy and good grace when it comes to difficult decisions.

8. Communicative
Excellent communication skills are paramount for any good leader. You must be able to communicate to the team your vision, goals and plan of action, clearly defining roles and responsibilities as you go. A breakdown in communication can lead to confusion and demotivation, which can be costly all round.

A way to be communicative with team members is to have clear, defined ways for them to share feedback with you, and ensuring that you respond in a timely and appropriate manner.

9. Resilience
Resilience and tenacity are the qualities that will keep you forging ahead as a leader. Undoubtedly, it’s not always rainbows and butterflies when you take on a leadership role and it’s likely the going will be tough at points. The key to weathering the storm is resilience and the conviction to never give up.

Yes, it may mean that you must change direction or tact periodically – it may even mean you have to swallow your pride and admit you are wrong. But great leaders are made when they get knocked down and get back up again.

10. Creativity
Regardless of the type of team you lead or the industry you are in, creativity gives you a distinct edge. When you can think outside of the box, innovate and push boundaries you will move forward effectively. Creativity can extend to anything, including the forms your leadership takes and reviewing processes to make them more streamlined. Don’t be afraid to use your imagination wherever possible, because great things will happen when you do.

Becoming a good leader

Nobody is born a leader. Yes, you may already possess some of the qualities and skills to make a successful leader. But often, becoming a leader is a process that requires experience and more than a little trial and error.

Adopting a growth mindset is, without doubt, the best way to develop in a leadership role and refine the qualities listed above. This comes with pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and demonstrating commitment to your cause each day to get there. It may not be an easy road, and it is one that takes more than a little bit of hard work and zeal to get there. In short, it is the amalgamation of all these skills and qualities that truly makes a leader great!