Qualities of A Good Leader

Qualities of A Good Leader

Qualities of A Good Leader

My boss in my last job was an amazing person. He never ever behaved like one. He was a buddy to the young and old alike. His pep talk motivated people to work smart. He was the first to arrive and last to leave the office everyday. Under his tutelage, the company met its target. He was a true leader in all senses of the word. I have learned everything about being a good leader from him, though I do know that I have a long way to go to be like him.

Not everyone in life can easily imbibe good qualities to be an effective leader. The qualities that I think make a person stand out in the crowd are:

  • A person should believe in his or her ability to be a good leader. If one is uncertain about one’s skills and capacity, one will never be able head a company.
  • One must be a good communicator. To be a good communicator, one must always listen first, analyze and observe as action speaks louder than words. Accept relevant suggestions from colleagues and subordinates. A good communicator also puts across whatever needs to be done simply and effectively.
  • A good leader is a man of character i.e. trustworthy and honest. He or she makes ethical decisions based on his or her own set of principles. A good leader encourages employees to be morally upright and stand up against wrongdoings.
  • The first step to being knowledgeable is to be thorough at one’s work. A hunger for more knowledge and a good problem-solving ability, besides being a good guide to colleagues and subordinates are some pointers in this direction.
  • A good leader can think, foresee future opportunities and give equal importance to the present. He or she should successfully encourage his or her colleagues and subordinates to think differently, recognize the need for change and work towards achieving a common goal, both professionally and personally.
  • A good leader knows the importance of earning respect rather than demanding it. He should work to earn the respect of his team members and reciprocate the same. He should not discriminate between white and blue collared staff.
  • A good leader has a positive attitude and encourages others to be positive even in a crisis. He should be able to control his emotions and encourage and motivate others to overcome lean patches in their professional lives by learning new skills.
  • A good leader is committed to meeting his project deadlines and completing tasks on hand.
  • When a plan goes awry or fails, it is a good leader who takes responsibility and acknowledges the team members for work done.

The above list is not an exhaustive one. Please feel free to add qualities you think are important to be a good leader.

Do share your thoughts with me on the same.

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  • A good set of qualities you have highlighted above. Think ahead, plan as far in advance as you possibly can. Think of your children’s needs when you do this, as they are the next generation. Intertemporal imagination is the key to visionary leadership. I look forward to discussing more about this with you. All best, Chris

  • How lucky you are to have had such an inspirational boss who embodied so many admirable qualities. I agree with all the above and would only add that a good leader is one who is patient and knows how to put others at ease.

  • Sometimes a good leader know how to push all the right buttons to get people motivated, on their toes, and facing the right direction. Patience is sometimes not a virtue and indeed can be counterprductive. Confrontation by apparent absence of action is a strategy some leaders employ at certain times, in readiness for decisive action that exposes the reality behind the visionary leader.

  • Mohideen

    Some of these qualitities are inherent to an individuals personality – ones which cannot be taught through books of the world. For example – trust worthiness, self belief, confidence, empathy etc -these cannot be taught in classrooms. So my question here is – Can we create good leaders or is it that leaders are born leaders?

  • I agree that those are important leadership qualities, Asma. Thanks for opening up this discussion. I appreciate the insights brought by others.

    Leadership has multiple facets and one of them is the ability to meet the five basic human needs of other people — both employees and customers. Understanding what those needs are and how they play out can make a big difference in results. I just wrote and article about the difference between management and leadership, including those five human needs. They are:

    1. Competence, mastery and a feeling of power in one’s life
    2. Affiliation, belonging and love
    3. Autonomy, freedom and choice about what matters to us
    4. Enjoyment, fun, pleasure
    5. Survival, which entails basic essentials to sustain life.

    It’s posted at: http://tinyurl.com/yhhu7gv

    My experience as a consultant and leadership coach is that leadership is both a talent and a skill. Some people are born with the natural talent and it’s easier for them to learn the skills (like a natural athlete — still must learn and practice but greatness comes with that). Others have less talent and must work harder to be competent. And anyone can take what they have been given to new levels of competence with a desire and effort. So, I believe that leaders are born…and made!
    Thanks for the opportunity to contribute!

  • I admire the qualities listed so far and would add an important one, Good Judgement, which is partially implied on your list. Judgement is not a catch all but would be at or near the top of my list.

    Strong leaders, respected though not always liked, recognize when critical decisions are required, they properly evaluate and make good judgements, then execute well. They possess sound judgement about the key people they hire, about critical strategies and in the midst of unforseen crises.

    An intriguing observation across many cultures is that leaders with diverse personalities/characteristics/qualities can be successul. I’ve worked under the quiet, cerebral, patient leader who plots carefully to lay out a new strategy and for the charismatic, communicative, hard driving leader, at times impatient, who seeks quick action and immediate results. And depending on the context of the situation, culture, requirements, etc. some qualities that once worked well, might later fall short.

    Ultimately, if leaders possess good judgement, they gain trust, respect and commitment – from employees, board members, investors and customers. Poor judgements will usually erode much of the good will created by these other leadership qualities we so value. Finally, a key part of leadership is instilling good judgement in other leaders, through learning, by example, case study, post decision reviews, etc.

    Great topic, list and comments from all!

  • I agree with your point on judgement. Point well made.

  • I just read Shackleton’s Way: Leadership Lessons from the Great Antarctic Explorer. My ideal leader is anyone who leads the way Ernest Shackleton did. He kept a 27-person crew optimistic and productive during a nearly two-year ordeal of being trapped on ice in Antarctica–without losing a single person. I appreciate leaders who 1. help people build on their strengths, 2. build strong teams from seemingly dissimilar people, 3. communicate clearly, 4. plan for problems, 5. instill optimism, 6. don’t see any task as beneath them, 7. take a personal interest in the well-being of the people they lead.

    The book is by Margot Morrell and Stephanie Capparell.

  • Ernest Shackleton is a remarkable example, Diane. I saw a PBS documentary of that ordeal and the hardships were UNBELIEVABLE! How they kept body and soul together during endless days of cold, hunger and hardly a faint hope of rescue is a miracle. And a tribute both to Shackleton’s abilities and the resilience of the men on that mission. Puts our daily challenges into perspective!

    I especially like your #6: see no task as beneath them. The best leaders I’ve known roll up their sleeves and work side-by-side with team members to get the work done. They lead by serving others. Those who consider themselves “above” certain tasks are never as effective. It’s relationships that build trust, loyalty and a strong work ethic.

    Thanks for reminding me of the Shackleton adventure and it’s message for us today!

  • Prasad

    Nice to read all the above comments. A true leader is a leader who creates more leaders not followers. He/she not only motivates the team by his communication skills but also inspire them by following what he/she preaches. A good leader takes the load of stress on his shoulders and allows his/her team work in a peaceful and friendly environment. Successful leaders have a clear vision and completely focused on what they want. Their unwavering attention on what they want, itself, manifest what they want in their life. Clarity of mind and clear understanding of what is going on around makes them choose right paths in decision making and problem solving.
    Whether a Leader are made or born is a never ending topic. I think the chances or 50-50.
    We can observe some kids knowingly or unknowingly start showing leadership qualities from their childhood. Communicating/guiding other children effectively, giving orders to fellow kids, trying to know more information about things from elders, resolving the issues between the playmates, wanting to be the center of attraction are some the of qualities of leader ship we can observe in children. Leaders who are made are due to the way they have brought up, circumstances, getting inspired by others who are successful in life are some of the reason which help people to be self made leaders.

    However, if leaders are made or born, they become successful leaders in life only when they are ready to change/ mould themselves as per the situations, update themselves with the information/knowledge and have the qualities mentioned above by all our friends.

  • I am very sure if all leaders have these qualities then there will be a nice working environment in any field, I love your post very well said!

    Zero Dramas