6 qualities of great leaders

Traits of great leaders

Some people are just born to lead.

We’ve all probably experienced one (or, hopefully many) of these great leaders at some point in our careers: the superiors who seem to overflow with inspiration and motivation. The individuals that push their teams to work hard and produce great results, time and time again.

And even if you’re not a born leader, you can still hone the skills to become one.

Here are the six qualities of great leaders:


This means doing the right thing whenever possible. It means not taking credit for others’ work or ideas. It means speaking up for what’s right, and keeping your word, both of which can sometimes be incredibly difficult as a manager.

Integrity is often coupled with the word honesty as a descriptor, as in “honesty and integrity.” But that’s redundant – if you have integrity, you’re honest by default.

When a leader has integrity, their employees trust them. And trust is a crucial part of engagement and satisfaction; in a recent survey, 55 per cent of employees cited trust with senior management as very important to job satisfaction.


A quote from a Forbes article on patience comes to mind: “Our collective effort to exercise patience is being tested today more than ever before – and as leaders we must do more to make up for those that have already lost their patience along the way.”

Good leaders never rush, even when they need to rush. They always have time to talk, even if there’s no time to waste. Taking time for people shows them that they are valued. And when people feel valued, they respond by showing how they are valuable.


If you don’t believe in yourself, your employees aren’t going to believe in you. Why should they? If you question yourself too much, others will question you, and nobody will know who to look up to. Your team needs a beacon or they will get lost.

As Inc. puts it: “Without confidence, there is no leadership.”

Why? Because it’s the basis for decision-making, says author Francisco Dao. “While the fearful will agonize over decisions and always make the safe choice, the confident will take the information that they have and take action. That is the definition of leadership.”


On the other hand, overconfidence has no place in great leaders, either. It usually masks insecurity, and can quickly turn a well-meaning manager into a micromanaging, controlling tyrant.

Great leaders know that they’re never going to be the smartest person in the room (after all, Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, and any number of overachievers say the key to a winning business is hiring people that are smarter than you).

They readily admit when they are wrong and respect other people’s opinions. They listen more than they talk, and seek to learn from their employees.


This is a word that mean many things to many people. It might incite images of everyone from Don Draper to Obama. In general, a leader with dignity remains cool under pressure, and doesn’t fly off the handle or have a meltdown even when things go horribly wrong. A good leader doesn’t lose it on their staff. Ever.

Call it composure, coolness, or equanimity (yes, we’re using a thesaurus), a good leader has it.


We’ve talked before about how important enthusiasm is to hiring managers looking for a star employee. But the trait is just as valuable in a leader.

Excitement is contagious. If you are excited about what you’re working on, your team will be excited. And when people are excited about something, working on it is a treat and a privilege, so they do a better job. The team looks good, the leader looks good, everyone wins.

See also:
Daily habits of the most successful entrepreneurs
How to be a good boss: 7 tips from an executive coach
Management lessons from NASA’s James Webb


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