15 Leadership Qualities You Need to Be a Great Leader

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 26 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A great leader can instil trust and loyalty in their team members and help an organisation succeed. Whether you're in the early stages of your career or a seasoned professional, you can continue to grow and develop the skills and traits of a highly effective leader. Understanding these essential leadership qualities can help you to become a highly valued leader in the workplace. In this article, we discuss several qualities that make a great leader and provide tips on how to develop them.

Related: How to Improve Leadership Skills (With Guidelines and Tips)

15 leadership qualities of a great leader

Here are some common leadership qualities that you may want to build:

1. Vision

An important aspect of being a leader is having a vision or goal. Leaders can support a strong vision by determining a set of steps to achieve the vision and goal. These visions cannot be realised by a single person. That's why great leaders share their vision in a way that inspires others to work towards it.

2. Active listening

Effective leaders do more than just give instructions or make statements. They listen and receive feedback from team members. To actively listen, a leader can make eye contact and show genuine interest in the discussion and team members' opinions. Active listening can further develop teamwork and make all team members feel heard.

3. Accountability

When a team attains a major accomplishment, the leader may receive significant credit for it. The same goes for negative outcomes where good leaders take responsibility. Whether the results are good or bad, leaders are responsible for their team's work and results.

4. Effective communication

Communicating effectively involves speaking and presenting yourself in an articulate and positive manner. When a leader uses effective communication, the team, project or meeting can continue on a clearer and smoother path. In a diverse workplace, it's also important to respect language barriers or communication differences across cultures. Great leaders can create a communication system that benefits everyone.

Related: 15 Ways on How to Communicate Effectively at the Workplace

5. Risk-taking

Risk-taking is a leadership quality that can lead to big rewards. A project may sometimes be challenging, therefore it's very important for a good leader to be flexible. Learning how to manage both positive and negative consequences from taking risks is important to your development as a leader.

6. Innovation

As the business evolves and faces competition, innovation is very important. Leaders develop creative and fresh ideas themselves and are also capable of motivating and inspiring their team members to think creatively. They can encourage this type of thinking by arranging brainstorming or prototyping sessions.

7. Empathy

To be a great leader, empathy is necessary to understand how the team is feeling about the overall work that they're putting out. Leaders can try to find out whether their team members are feeling satisfied or stressed. They know how to praise those who are doing well and encourage those who are struggling. Having empathy allows leaders to learn how to be assertive and kind at the same time.

8. Problem-solving

A good leader can think of innovative solutions when faced with challenges. It's also important for leaders to ensure the team can overcome the problem successfully. A leader can also arrange training to equip their team members or employees with the problem-solving skills necessary to mitigate future problems and prevent recurring issues from happening again.

9. Optimism

Optimistic leaders believe that the company is working for a better future. They highly value each team member's contribution to achieve that goal. Recognising that change is inevitable, optimistic leaders keep doing their best and maintain a positive outlook. During stressful periods or unforeseen circumstances, great leaders can still be positive and motivate their team members with encouraging words. When team members are optimistic, they may be more spirited and this may affect their effectiveness at work.

10. Active learning

Many effective leaders continue to learn about the new trends and technology in their industries. They're not only knowledgeable about their current fields of expertise but also continue to equip themselves with new skill sets. In this way, leaders can fulfil their purposes and also inspire the team to continue learning as well. Leaders can continuously take on online courses or attend seminars to learn more about specific topics that they want to explore more about.

11. Confidence

Setting high expectations and goals for your team shows that you're confident in their capabilities. Being a confident leader is important to boost team morale and attain the set goals. Leaders can show confidence by staying firm in their decisions and praising team members for work done well. Great leaders also inspire confidence in their team.

12. Humility

It's important for a good leader to have a deep sense of humanity as it's going to help to balance the business and social aspects. This is why practising humility as a leader becomes essential to foster a good relationship with the team. Team members or employees may feel much more connected and comfortable with a leader who remains humble.

13. Trust

Leadership requires an organised system of delegating specific tasks. Once a group takes on a task, good leaders trust that their team is responsible and capable of completing the task well. This method builds positive morale and maintains mutual respect between the leader and team. A reciprocal relationship of trust is crucial to team performance and growth.

14. Flexibility

Working with a team of different individuals in a continuously changing environment means daily tasks, goals and responsibilities are going to change. Flexible leaders adjust and adapt to maintain the progress of the team, project or company as needed. They're open to new ideas and change as long it helps the team and the company grow.

15. Integrity

Great leaders with integrity are honest with their team members or employees even in tough situations. A leader can demonstrate their integrity in various ways, such as being responsible for the money given by the company. Being transparent and honest with the entire team is going to allow them to operate efficiently and make work more enjoyable.

How to develop your leadership skills

Although technical skills are important, learning and practising soft skills especially in leadership are more important. Developing skills and traits that can make you a great leader takes time and effort. Here are some tips on how to develop your leadership skills:

1. Find your leadership style

While it's reasonable to adjust your leadership style in different situations, it can be helpful to find a style that encompasses how you want to lead your team, projects or meetings. Over time, most leaders develop their own style based on factors like experience and personality. It's also important to consider the unique needs of the company and organisational work culture.

Related: 10 Types of Leadership Styles

2. Identify your strengths and weaknesses

Think about which leadership qualities you already have and which ones can use improvement. Requesting feedback from trusted professionals in your field can help you find your strengths and weaknesses you might have overlooked. Self-assessments can also help you learn how to use those strengths and weaknesses to benefit yourself, your team members and the workplace.

Related: Soft Skills: Definition, Examples and Tips

3. Get a mentor

Find a person who you feel is a great and effective leader. You can search for someone whose actions you may like to imitate. There are different types of mentors that you can look for. You can search for someone in the field that interests you like your university senior or your direct manager in the company. You can find mentors in your community through friends, family or even through professional networking sites.

When you find the right person, don't be shy to ask them to be your mentor. If they agree to accept you as a mentee, use the opportunity to learn from them and adopt the qualities that make them great leaders.

4. Stay positive

Becoming an effective leader can take months, years or even decades to perfect. Be patient and allow yourself to make mistakes, but learn from them and improve over time. If you encounter a challenge, find a way to see this as a positive opportunity for you to improve yourself even further. Instead of giving up, you can introspect your methods of learning and find a different way to achieve them.

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