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20 Best leadership qualities and skills

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You can’t be a leader if you don’t have what it takes to lead. There’s always a lot of debates on what makes someone a good leader. So, if you ask one or two persons about it, you’ll be surprised that they have lots of things to say. The truth is that being a leader is not easy. As someone who’s at the helm of affairs, people expect a lot from you. So, you’re expected to possess and exhibit some leadership qualities that will win the trust of the followers.

If you want people to trust and agree with your vision, you must exhibit strong leadership skills to show that you know what you’re doing.

Don’t expect people to put their future in your hands when you don’t have what it takes to secure it.

Gone were the days when people thought that leaders are made from the womb only.

Some people are indeed born with the natural ability to be in charge.

But psychology has proven that leadership qualities can be cultivated and perfected.

With constant learning and practice, anybody can be a leader.

RELATED: A GUIDE TO LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT

Once you study the attributes of a leader and sincerely practice it, you can become not just a leader but a good one.

So, what are these leadership attributes that make them stand out?

Let’s check them!

Leadership qualities of a leader:

1. Integrity

This is one of the important qualities of a good leader.

According to C.S Lewis, a man of integrity is someone who does the right thing when there are no witnesses.

Therefore, leaders who protect their integrity no matter the situation usually win the loyalty of the people under them.

If you want to achieve unmatched success,

  • Try to keep your word.
  • Lead by example
  • Live by your core values
  • Follow through your promises

No one will follow a leader who is not reliable, honest, and trustworthy.

Instead of faulting others and presenting themselves as perfect, leaders with integrity accept their failings, apologize for them, and avoid making excuses.

So, if you want to succeed as a leader, be a man or woman of integrity.

2. Accountability

Good leaders never blame others for their weaknesses or failures.

That’s why you’ll see a leader sometimes volunteer to bear the consequences of his/her team’s failure.

If you’re leading a project and something goes wrong, it will be cowardly to shift the blame to your subordinates while you exonerate yourself.

Good leadership qualities demand that you share the results with them, whether good or bad.

So, if you want to gain the trust and loyalty of the people under you, accountability should be among your watchwords.

Don’t leave others hanging to protect your own back.

That’s cowardice, and good leaders are not cowards.

3. Humility

Arrogance and pomposity don’t make good leaders, but humility does.

It helps them to:

  • Acknowledge the efforts of other
  • Collaborate with others
  • Keep their words
  • Appreciate others more

A humble leader wins the hearts of his/her subordinates.

We know that power can make someone feel on top of the world.

But good leadership is all about achievements and success.

Instead of trying to promote yourself, try hard to focus on solving the problems of your organization.

You can’t achieve great things without people who believe in your cause.

If you bring yourself down as someone who’s also vulnerable like the rest of them, they can relate with you and put more effort into achieving goals.

4. Resilience

Good leaders don’t run or hide when the going gets tough.

Anyone can shine when things are dandy, but the leaders who know their job always stand firm to face the challenges.

Resilience is one of the characteristics that differentiate a good leader from a bad one.

Any leader who can’t adapt to unplanned challenges is not worth following.

Resilient leaders can:

  • Cope with challenges
  • Adapt to disruptive changes
  • Overcome setbacks
  • Achieve great feats

Without the determination to push forward even when the situation is bent on pushing you backward, you can never reach your goals.

That’s why people follow someone who proffers solutions when things are rough than the person who brings up excuses.

5. Vision

Every good leader has a vision, and that’s what drives them from morning till night.

You can’t be a leader without vision.

In every organization, leaders are the people who refocus the minds of others towards the company vision.

We’re yet to see any organization that doesn’t have a vision statement.

There’s a place they want to be in some years, and that’s what the leaders focus on achieving.

Vision helps leaders to:

  • Pursue a set goal
  • Manage time and resources
  • Be inspired and motivated.
  • Persevere
  • Lead by example

A visionary leader always does everything that will turn the vision into reality.

He/she motivates others, takes greater pain, works harder, and encourages others to move forward.

Vision is like a driving force behind the actions of a good leader.

Without it, there’s nothing like leadership.

6. Commitment

One of the leadership qualities characteristics worth cultivating is commitment.

A leader who is not willing to get his or her hands dirty alongside the employees is not worth following.

There’s always the “lead by example” advice for leaders, and that’s where commitment comes to play.

If you want your followers to work hard towards a common goal, you’ll show them how it’s done.

Above all, if you treat the objectives of the organization casually or as unimportant, the people you’re leading will do worse.

This is why a great leader thinks, sleeps, and talks about the goals and how to achieve them.

He/she also take every action to ensure that the vision is realized.

7. Enthusiasm

If you don’t love what you’re doing, you can’t convince others to do the same.

So, that’s why leaders are expected to show sincere enthusiasm for their business, products, and organization.

Passionate leaders find it easy to convince their subordinates to strive harder for the greater good.

Sometimes people think that good leaders have some tricks up their sleeves due to the great followership they command.

There’s no trick except enthusiasm and passion for their goals.

Therefore, any leader who wants to achieve more should be enthusiastic about their goals and objectives.

8. Creativity

Leadership without innovation is like a car without wheels.

A visionary leader is always creative.

So, he/she is usually coming up with ideas and strategies to bring solutions to the problems of the society, organization, or the world at large.

Creative leadership is one of the drivers of positive changes in society.

When the followers are confused about a bad situation, the leader is expected to come up with an innovative solution.

This is why anyone who finds himself in a leadership position should always think ahead of his followers.

9. Self-motivated

Everybody wants someone who will motivate them when they’re weak or discouraged.

But the question is, who motivates a leader?

Self-motivation is not just one of the important leadership qualities to have, but it is compulsory.

People are always focused on what a leader did or didn’t do right that they forget that they’re humans too.

Leaders are sometimes discouraged, but no one notices.

Yes, we can’t because they know how to mask it.

If you are in a leadership position, learn how to motivate yourself, and move forward.

If you don’t, you may give up along the way.

Leaders skills which every good leader must possess:

10. Communication

This is a skill that every good leader must develop.

If you can’t express your vision, goals, or objectives understandably, no one will execute them.

This skill helps you to tell employees what to do, how to do when to do, and the best result to achieve.

Communication is useless if it’s not effective.

How will you know that you’ve passed a message across to the recipient?

  • It must be complete
  • Your message must be concise
  • It must be considerate of the recipient
  • The message must be correct
  • It must be concrete
  • The details must be clear

When your communication style and process possesses all these characteristics, you can be sure of its effectiveness.

Also, a good leader must learn how to listen.

Communication is a two-way process.

When it comes to running organizations, a leader who doesn’t listen to his employees or subordinates may not succeed.

You need to show interest in their values, opinions, suggestion, and ideas.

Once you show that spirit of empathy to your subordinates, you’ll win their loyalty and achieve more.

11. Time management

One of the greatest assets of a leader is time.

Good leaders understand the importance of time, and so that’s why you rarely see them doing things that don’t contribute to their causes.

In addition, as a leader, there’re lots of things to do, and if you can’t allocate the time you have in a day properly, you’ll fail to achieve anything at all.

Any leader who has mastered the time management skill will always:

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  • Achieve more every day
  • Record great success in his/her cause
  • Inspire his subordinates to be more productive

That’s why many good leaders have secretaries who schedule their appointments, plan out their day from morning until they retire for the evening.

12. Delegation

It’s never easy to transition from being the doer to being the boss.

A good leader is someone busy handling many tasks to achieve a goal.

Then all of a sudden, he/she attains a leadership position.

There’s always a struggle to relinquish all the hands-on duties to others.

But to be a good leader, you need to know when to allow others to execute everything they’ve learned from you.

Apart from what your subordinates have seen you do, they’re also equipped with personal ideas and innovative approaches to achieving a task set before them.

So, instead of impeding their growth, good leaders make room for their subordinates to succeed independently.

In addition, good leadership qualities demand that subordinates be allowed to use their skills and abilities to excel in their duties.

That’s why leaders who understand it work less but achieve more through delegation.

13. Influence

Good leaders are men and women whose influence is felt through everyone working under them.

It’s never easy to gain the respect of others if you don’t work hard to earn it.

People may work under you but don’t respect you.

That’s why good leaders learn the art of influencing others and earning their respect.

Some of the things they do to achieve it are:

  • Setting clear goals
  • Creating an emotional connection between them and their subordinates
  • Achieving a balance between vulnerability and charisma
  • Making room for subordinates inputs and suggestions
  • Acting professionally in every situation

Influential leaders achieve more goals because they command the respect of their subordinates.

But it takes a lot of commitment to achieve it, and that’s one of the leadership attributes worth cultivating.

14. Decision making

One of the leadership skills that every good leader should possess is decision-making skills.

Subordinates often respect a boss who knows when to say do or don’t.

Your ability to make a decision when it matters and also make the right one will portray you as someone who knows what he’s doing.

The right approach to making decisions has always been to discuss with stakeholders before concluding on a final point.

The final decision usually lies with the leader, but involving others in the process always helps them to make the right one.

Nevertheless, there are times when an urgent decision is required.

In such situations, a leader should depend on his/her wealth of experience and insights to make the right one.

15. Emotional intelligence

This is one of the skills that can transform an ordinary leader into an influential one.

A leader who cannot control his/her emotions will never know how to lead his subordinates.

Emotional quotient, as it’s usually called, is the ability to understand your emotions, manage it, and also use it positively.

It helps a leader to:

  • Be socially aware
  • Communicate easily with others
  • Resolve conflict in the workplace
  • Control his/her emotions at all times

Leaders whose emotional intelligence skill is high doesn’t make decisions carelessly.

Also, they know how to understand and handle the emotions of their subordinates too.

That’s why a good leader will always appear to people as “born to lead” because they don’t let their feelings overshadow their reasoning.

Traits of a successful leader:

16. Empathy

Good leaders are usually people who understand others around them.

You must always try to understand the feelings and thoughts of your subordinates.

Also, if you want to achieve more in your leadership, look past yourself and discover the need of the people under you.

Empathy helps you to:

  • Increase employees performance
  • Improve strategies
  • Gain more loyal staffs
  • Negotiate better with others

When you show others that you understand their predicament, challenges, fears, and weaknesses, it fosters a strong relationship with them.

Through this trait, a leader can encourage, support, and improve on his/her staff performance.

So if you’re not an understanding leader, your workers will never be willing and happy to push harder.

17. Positivity

Every good leader is a positive person.

Positivity keeps a leader’s countenance bright even when the odds are against him/her.

Things don’t always go the way people plan.

But the ability to keep an open mind, and continue believing in the possibility of a solution makes one a great leader.

Being positive makes leaders more inspiring.

Once the team sees the positive outlook of the leader in challenging situations, it becomes a basis for their reaction.

So, good leaders must “walk the talk.”

It’s not enough to say it unless he/she shows the subordinates how it’s done by remaining positive, no matter the situation.

18. Confidence

This is one of the characteristics of a leader who knows what leadership means.

So, if a leader is not confident, how can he/she move the subordinates towards achieving a common goal?

Things will not always go as planned.

Some days may appear cloudy and seem like everything is a waste of time.

Also, the confidence of a leader is what will propel others behind him to believe in the possible achievement of their objectives.

Leaders don’t show their doubts even when the situation pushes them hard.

They remain calm to boost the morale of their subordinates.

19. Courage

This is one of the leadership qualities that people expect from those at the helm of affairs, no matter the organization.

If a leader doesn’t show his willingness to take risks, the subordinates will not treat him/her with respect.

Therefore as a leader, you must always do whatever it takes to achieve the goals of the organization.

Fear cripples fast, and leaders know it.

They are always showing courage, even in the face of danger.

Also, people always expect a leader to be at the frontlines and face challenges headlong without looking back.

That way, the people who look up to them will trust that they have what it takes to secure their future.

20. Transparency

If you want your subordinates to trust you, be a transparent leader.

One of the characteristics of good leadership is openness and sincerity.

So, no matter what people may think, every good leader shares information with his/her subordinates.

If you can’t carry people along with what you’re doing, how do you expect them to follow you?

When you let your subordinates into your plans as a leader, it makes them happy and more committed.

So, it shows them that you are not dubious and don’t have plans to cheat or even take all the glory for their efforts.

Transparency helps a leader to achieve more with his team.

Examples of good leaders:

1. Nelson Mandela

He was the first democratic president of South Africa and the person who stood against the Apartheid in his country.

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He also spent his life-fighting racism and even landed in prison for it.

But Mandela was so determined in his cause that he finally achieved his goal and came out a hero.

2. John Rockefeller

This was the man behind Standard Oil.

He started as far back as 1862 when he bought an oil refinery.

Even in those years, John revolutionized the oil market without any assistance.

3. Barack Obama

He is the first black man to win the presidential race in the United States of America.

Obama didn’t just stay in the oval for a short time, but he served as the president for eight years.

This goes a long way to show that he did things right.

4. Henry Ford

Henry was the man who pioneered the production of automobiles.

He was the founder of Ford Motor Co., and so after years of persistence, integrity, hard work and many other leadership qualities, Henry Ford became a business legend

5. Bill Gates

Everyone knows Bill and his continued influence in bringing positive changes in the world.

He started as the founder of Microsoft but has moved into many philanthropic ventures through his Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

6. Elon Musk

Everybody in the world has heard or used PayPal for financial transactions.

This is the man behind the great financial transaction engines that has brought the world closer.

He also founded SpaceX and is also involved in Tesla Motors.

Conclusion

Good leaders are hard to come by, but wherever they are, they bring innovation and positive changes.

Some leaders are indeed born, but psychology has proven that good leaders can be made too.

It’s all about cultivating good leadership qualities and practicing them until they become a part of you.

So, every man or woman who finds themselves in a leadership position must strive to have these qualities we’ve discussed here.

They won’t only help you to achieve your vision; they’ll help you to leave a mark in the world.

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