14 Leadership Qualities: A List of Skills to Make a Great Leader

Believe it or not, having amazing leadership qualities is not just for the chosen few.

Many people think that great leaders are born with these superhuman skills: in other words, you either have the ability to lead, or you don’t.

This, however, is not true!

You can actually learn to become better at your leadership skills, traits, and qualities.

Maybe there is just ‘something’ about a great leader that creates a huge presence. Maybe you think that this ‘presence’ is innate and you don’t have it…

Perhaps you’re running a start-up, small business, Fortune 500 company, or online business and you’re wondering how you can turn your company from good to fantastic – if so, this article was written just for you. Leadership skills will transform your organization.

Excellent leadership brings together individual traits and vital qualities – 14 of them – which you can learn and implement in your leadership role. We’re going to look at these in depth to help you become the leader you know you can be.

What Are The Leadership Qualities That Make A Great Leader?

First, you need to know that it’s the concept of ‘us’, ‘we’ and ‘the group’ that is fundamental to being a great leader – and these are the skills you need to succeed:

  1. Vision 
  2. Integrity 
  3. Decision making 
  4. Being result-oriented 
  5. Resilience 
  6. Humility 
  7. Empathy 
  8. Delegation 
  9. Communication 
  10. Confidence 
  11. Positivity 
  12. Accountability 
  13. Ability to inspire 
  14. Self-motivation

Vision.

Develop a Motivating Corporate Vision with Clear Action Steps to Achieve It.

Having vision as a leader is absolutely key. It is also the thing you can have most control over for yourself – you have to know your goals, where you’re going, and how to get there.

You can’t rely on members of your team to direct your vision. Imagine the mess if every team member had a different idea of what the vision is! It’s your job to make the plan and communicate that to everyone else clearly, passionately and with optimism.

So how do you develop an unshakeable vision?

The creation of a vision at its very earliest stages is one of the few things that you as a leader will likely do alone. You need to sit down with yourself and envision what the outcome needs to look like for you to consider it a success. Is this company growth? Profit? Sales? Increased output? Efficiency?

Ask yourself as well, what meaningful contribution is this project making either to society, the company, or my individual team members?

You’ll find that when you identify a solid and worthwhile benefit to succeeding, you will become all the more invested in your vision.

And if you’re not invested, how can you expect your team to be!

So now you’ve got yourself on board, you need to plan out how you’re going to get where you want to be. Consider each step your team (or the whole organization) will have to take, and consider who in your team might be best suited to each part. 

Then it is time to share the vision with the team and get everyone on board. Communication is vital for this, but the aim is to get your team as passionate about the vision as you are.

Passion and vision are inextricably tied together when you’re in the leadership role.

We’ve all been there – we hate what we’re working on, we don’t want to go into the office in the morning, and every minute at your desk feels like an hour. And what happens? 

The same thing every time: you’re unmotivated, so is your team, and you don’t meet the results you set out to. Worse, everyone had a horrible time doing it!

Therefore one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your team is to have a passion for whatever project you are working on. 

Passion doesn’t mean you have to love everything – not many people in the world would claim a passion for spreadsheets or budget reports, but passion is the product of interest, rather than interest coming from passion.

That means when you are leading something, get interested in the finer details. This could be the manufacturing process, the web design, the team brainstorming sessions… Whatever interests you, use that coupled with your drive to get the results you want and watch your passion grow without you having to do anything about it. You can find something truly interesting in everything!

How to Create a Vision:

  • Spend some time by yourself, picturing what you want your outcome to be.
  • Identify what large-scale actions need to be taken to get from where you are now to your dream.
  • For each of those large-scale actions, narrow it down into smaller steps that you can make progress on today.
  • Condense it all down into a few sentences: this is what you’re going to use to communicate to your team.
  • Know it inside out, and sell what you want to the people who will help you get there!

Integrity.

Be honest and trusted as part of the group.

If your team doesn’t trust you, they will not follow your direction. The single most effective way to gain trust is to have integrity in everything you do.

In fact, CFOs have said that they look for integrity above all else when training future leaders.

This means being open, honest, and when it calls for it, ethical. Films and TV have portrayed the wealthy, respected leader as the guy happy to play in the shadows and be out for his own interests, but the reality is, in the real world without (genuine) respect from your team, you won’t get far.

But what does it mean to be respected? Some people believe that fear, i.e. being tough on your team to get them to ‘fall in line’, is what garners respect – it doesn’t. Fear tactics get people to do what you say not because they want to, but because they fear the consequences of not doing it.

The real way to gain respect in the workplace is to be honest and open. This means admitting when you’ve been wrong, listening to other people, and not hiding your weaknesses. The point of a team is that one person’s weakness can be complemented by another strength!

You need to focus on being a present member of the team, not some overlord watching from above. When you do this, people will see you as someone they can come to with issues that arise (and issues always arise!) which means you can act to solve them instead of them quietly getting worse.

So what does this mean in practice?

Integrity means that if you tell your team that you will get something done for them, it must be done. It means if someone is acting unprofessionally you must call them out on it.

Basically, you need to replicate the behavior you want from your team exactly and fulfill that always. Act like the best employee to be the best employer!

There may be times in your leadership role when you are put in a difficult decision – perhaps there were higher-up budget cuts that you had no say in, but you had promised your team that no one was going to lose their jobs even when you knew that wasn’t true?

When someone is inevitably let go in that situation, and you hadn’t been honest with your team about it, you’ll lose the trust of everyone still working for you.

And as we said before, without trust the team falls apart!

When deciding what integrity means for your team specifically, just put yourself in your team’s shoes and think, would I be impressed if my boss did this? If the answer is no, don’t do it! Aim to have the full, well-deserved trust of your team at all times.

How to Implement Integrity:

  • Know your strengths and weaknesses – and be honest about your weaknesses.
  • Behave in the same way you expect your team to behave.
  • Remember you are a role model: always be upstanding.
  • When you have to make tough decisions, make the decision that is the best for your whole team.
  • Always be honest – dishonesty will only ever make things worse.

Decision Making.

Fast, agile, data-driven decision making for the benefit of your team (and organization).

In Niccolo Macchiavelli’s famous book on leadership, The Prince, he states that a prince should never avoid problems in the short term as they will just be bigger problems in the future. This is the essence of decision making – picking the path that solves and avoids the most problems, while gaining maximum benefit.

We aren’t suggesting you follow the rest of Machiavelli’s advice (most of it would not make you a great leader today!) but it does show the importance of being decisive.

Have you ever been in a situation where you’re depending on a decision and someone just can’t decide what to do? Annoying, right! You don’t want to be that person – you want to be the leader that can directly see the best path forward.

Decision making ties into vision. The better planned and padded-out your vision, the easier it will be for you to know where to go next. If you’ve sold your vision properly to your team then it’s likely they will a) be able to predict your decisions and b) understand their wider context.

Sometimes though, decisions will be hard.

There may be two equally great opportunities, or two equally risky ones. This is where you need to put your analysis into play. Every important decision you make as a leader should be well-thought out. You can’t just do things on a whim, or act first without thinking. 

This will lead to irrational decision making, and you will find your team quickly lose confidence in you because of this.

But it’s ok! We have the solution! Good decision making depends on an in-depth knowledge of your project area so that you understand the intricacies of what you are doing. This enables you to see different possible outcomes more clearly. Then you have to weigh the pros and cons of each action before taking the option that best aligns with your team’s goals and visions.

Make every decision like this and you’ll reap the rewards!

decision making by great leaders
Source: umassd.edu

How to Implement Better Decision Making:

  • Understand the ins and outs of your project and organization.
  • When you have to decide, take a quick step back and weigh up the options.
  • Analyze the choices and make the decision that is the best option for everyone.
  • Don’t wait on a decision because you’re unsure about it – be rational and logical, and get it sorted. If you leave it to fester, it will be harder when you come to it.
  • Don’t make key decisions on a whim without proper thought; use data to back up your decisions.

Being Result-Oriented.

Know where you’re going, and bring your team with you! Results are more important than being busy.

Making the best decisions requires keeping the goal in mind. Often in the business setting, the goal is monetary – but it doesn’t need to be. It could be the welfare of your team or your collective expansion as an organization.

Desired results can often change within the project itself as different priorities crop up and changes occur. For example, if you first began a project of redesigning the company’s website, perhaps your initial goal was to increase traffic to the site.

But, if halfway through the project you realize that traffic is not what’s important but rather the number of people who sign up to your email list, this might well change the whole focus and design of the website. 

This means that as well as being result oriented, you must be open minded and willing to act if the desired result changes. 

The reason being detail oriented is so key for the leader is for two reasons: 

  1. It is your job to keep an eye on the bigger picture while your team each work on their individual parts and 
  2. You need to be the one noticing which parts of the project need speeding up or improving so that you can achieve that result – basically this means you have to be focused on the result in order to get the result.

Oftentimes, not reaching your exact result doesn’t mean that a project has failed.

However, meeting your outcomes and intentions is often the headline stat that you will present to your own superiors – and you want your team to be seen favorably in their eyes for possible bonuses, promotions or other well-deserved perks. Keeping this in mind will ensure your team is rewarded for their work, which in turn will boost their morale. 

Results aren’t always everything, but using them to push your team further to improve their work and fulfill their potential will bring so many positives.

In so many ways, a single goal brings diverse groups of people together, ensuring you get the most from your organization’s resources while also creating a motivated team.

How to Be More Result-Oriented:

  • Keep the bigger picture in mind: know where you are going so you stay on track (Use maximum 3 KPIs to guide your strategic decision making).
  • Strive to achieve that result and motivate your team towards it.
  • Remember that even if you don’t quite meet your result, it doesn’t mean your project was a failure: just try even harder next time!

Resilience.

It won’t always be smooth sailing, but it’s your job to steer the ship through any storm!

This, fundamentally, is the key to success in anything.

Grit’, a book by Angela Duckworth, argues that it is resilience above all else that decides whether someone or something will be successful.

Many people believe that it is luck, talent, or endless bounds of motivation that do it, but that’s not true – success is built on consistently turning up and pushing through when the going gets tough.

Not all of your leadership life is going to be smooth sailing, let’s be honest here. There may be a delay in manufacturing, technology problems, just general bad days or any other thing going on.

leadership qualities: six domains of resilience
Source: hellodriven.com

But what does a good leader do in these situations that a bad leader doesn’t? They just carry on anyway! They look at the bad day and don’t make it into a bad project – instead they see that setbacks are inevitable for progress and they press on anyway.

This can be easier said than done when you’re tired or frustrated, but in those situations the good leader has to recognize that their own personal feelings at the time must not be put above the team, because it’s your job to be keeping them motivated even on the days when you aren’t.

Along with integrity, being resilient in all situations will gain you huge respect from your team. If people see that, no matter what the world throws at you, you can just take it in your stride and keep everything on track, they will try to do the same themselves which will improve your entire project no end. 

Being resilient and just carrying on doesn’t mean being blase about things (and therefore just going through the motions). It means taking problems and turning them into actionable solutions.

When you’re facing a setback in your project, it’s important to take a step back to breathe.

Then, you need to really understand the mechanics of the problems you are facing before going ahead with the process of making a decision to decide how you’re going to move on.

If you can look at a problem and say, ‘don’t worry guys, I have a way we can sort this out!’ your team will hugely respect you for it.

Watch Angela talk about Grit here.

Angela Lee Duckworth. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

How to Implement Resilience:

  • When the going gets tough, the tough get going!
  • Keep your eye on the bigger picture so you know where you’re going.
  • Analyze different options for solving problems so you can push on as soon as possible.
  • Remember that a bad day doesn’t make a bad project!

Humility.

Stay humble even if you’re the CEO or just sold your startup for billions of Dollars.

There is always that one guy in the office that no-one wants to work with. What’s he like? Well, he boasts about every tiny good thing he has ever done and makes sure everyone knows when he’s succeeded at something (you’ll notice he goes very quiet if he ever fails at anything…).

If you’re a leader, taking on the characteristics of this person is not going to be good for you. No one wants to work with someone like this, let alone for them!

The key thing to remember is that every achievement is the team’s achievement, not yours. You’re part of that team, but everything good that happens is a group achievement (and anything bad is your responsibility).

In practice this means being open about your weaknesses if you’re unsure how to do something. You may be the leader, but you’re not expected to be the best at every single thing, and if you try to pretend you are, you will get caught out.

People like to work with others they feel they can talk to and make a connection with, so being human and genuine is a great way to go. You may be their boss, but we are all human and we appreciate it when we are made to all feel equal in the work environment. 

Humility also comes hand in hand with being willing to learn. In this world, there are experts all around us if we are just willing to look – every one of your team members will know something you don’t, so let them teach you and be willing to learn from them!

They will love that they have been able to contribute, and you will improve as a leader and person.

Learning and teaching are great bedfellows, so be as willing to teach as you are to learn. This means clearly and kindly explaining to individual team members, and the whole group, where they could be improving before training them in the best way to do it.

Again though, don’t teach what you don’t know – if you aren’t sure, exercise humility and allow someone to teach you!

leadership trait humility
Source: medium.com

How to Implement Humility:

  • Always be open about your weaknesses and be willing to learn.
  • Stop yourself if you catch yourself boasting!
  • It’s not a weakness to not know everything. Actually, not knowing gives you the opportunity to grow and learn.
  • Respectfully teach your team things when you can.

Empathy.

A true understanding of others, and interest in their well-being, are the foundations of the best and most fruitful professional relationships.

In life, they say that the best way to connect with a person is to truly understand them. Since you want to connect with your team so that you can all work together seamlessly and get the best from each other, it makes sense to work on your empathy!

EQ is like the emotional version of IQ and it looks at how good you are at understanding emotions. In the leadership role though, it’s not just emotions that you want to be looking at, but rather your team’s motivations, hopes and desires

If you know that one of your team members is working overtime so they can travel to see her family, you can understand that they are clearly family-oriented and you can make sure they get the time off they need in reward for their good work.

If you know that another team member would like to develop professionally to be a leader themselves one day, you could put specific effort into training them in the things you do every day.

Just little touches like this will let your team know that not only do you know them individually, you actually care about them as people and their career or personal progressions.

Having office cake on birthdays, sending cards for weddings and other such tiny actions will make a huge difference for morale.

Because if we go back to the leaders in film and TV that we mentioned earlier, we don’t see these people doing things like this – and over time that leads us all to believe that a great leader is focused on nothing but bottom lines.

But there are people behind those bottom lines, and that line will come crashing down without your team holding it up! It’s cliche, but the best investment is always people, and very often that investment is not cash but little gestures to show that you appreciate the work people put in. 

So, if there is one thing you focus on for this next week, let it be your team members. Sit down with them individually and check in on them, or chat to them while you make coffee. It will make all the difference!

empathy is important for leadership
Source: tutsplus.com

How to Implement Empathy:

  • Listen to your team and learn about their lives, preferences, hobbies, personality types, value system, and families.
  • Be really interested in what they’re telling you.
  • Make little gestures that show you care about their well-being.

Delegation.

Delegate clear non-overlapping responsibilities and tasks (and empower people to take action).

Do you know what the word is for leaders who don’t delegate? Well, there’s two actually – the first is exhausted, and the second is a micromanager! 

The easiest way to get exhausted (and eventually lose your motivation) is to try and control everything that goes on. But if you were supposed to do everything, you wouldn’t have a team.

To delegate properly, you need to know the strengths of every individual on your team. That way, when a job comes up, you know who you will do the best.

It can be difficult to know what to delegate, especially if you’re new in a leadership position and you are trying to do your best – it can make you want to take control of everything, and relinquishing that control can be difficult.

A good tool is the Eisenhower Matrix: it will help you know what kind of tasks you should do yourself, and how to delegate. It will also help you keep on top of all your incoming tasks.

Eisenhower Matrix to help leaders make better decisions
The Eisenhower Matrix

If your team doesn’t feel that you will let them get on and do their jobs, they will assume you don’t trust them or think they aren’t capable of working alone. This will lead to poor team morale very quickly. 

Getting good at delegating won’t only mean that you reduce your own personal workload, but it will make sure everyone in the team feels like they are adding a valuable part of the work.

There is some science that says if you ask someone a favor, or delegate them a task, they actually start to like you more because they assume you trusted them enough to single them out to do something important. This is a great way to build team rapport!

How to Implement Effective Delegation:

  • Get to know your team and their individual strengths and weaknesses.
  • Make sure you know what tasks need to be completed (and keep track on the progress using tools like Monday.com).
  • Use the Eisenhower matrix to decide what to do with tasks.
  • Go ahead and delegate!

Communication.

Words are the most powerful, most human tool you can use to connect with people.

The pen is mightier than the sword, wars are begun with a single word… these sayings exist for a reason – because communication is vital.

It’s often true that actions speak louder than words, but action backed up without proper communication is doomed to fail.

leadership communications statistics
Source: slideshare.net

But how do you go about communicating properly? Sometimes people think great communication is just natural and can’t be learned, but there are some key rules you can follow that will sort it out in no time:

  • Don’t assume that just because you know something, everyone else knows it too. Make sure you are updating your team regularly on progress, on what needs to be done next, and what needs to improve.
  • Never leave anyone guessing what you want – if someone does the wrong thing because you didn’t manage to communicate properly, that’s on you – not them!
  • Communication is written or verbal: an important form of verbal communication is feedback which should be given frequently. Feedback keeps people on track, allows them to improve, and boosts morale when you give compliments.
  • For important or complex things, it is better to communicate first verbally (so questions can be asked) and then in written form, probably via email. This means people can refer back to it when they need to check something.
  • Make sure when you are actively communicating, do it clearly. Don’t use jargon if it isn’t necessary, and use language everyone on the team can understand. You’ll be saving yourself time re-explaining things when you do this!

Beyond just doing the talking, the other half of communication is listening. If you don’t listen, you will not understand where your team are coming from and you will miss out loads of amazing possibilities.

Tony Salvadar’s ‘The Listening Bias’ will give you some tips on how to be a better listener (and thus better communicator).

Tony Salvador: The Listening Bias

All of the above is mainly for practical communication. Sometimes, you will need to use your words to inspire other people, but as far as communication is concerned just keep in the back of your mind that inspirational speech is a tool in your armory.

How to Communicate Effectively:

  • Know your vision and business plan inside out.
  • Know each step that will need to be taken by the team.
  • Use delegation skills (from above) to communicate what needs to be done.
  • Use clear, concise language.
  • Communicate positives often and timely.
  • Use written communication for complex messages.

Confidence.

If you aren’t confident, no one else will be!

There is a very fine line between confident and cocky – and you don’t want to cross it!

Confidence is not:

  • Boasting about your own achievements.
  • Undermining other people for your own gain.
  • Shouting and being brash.
  • Being intimidating.
  • Never rewarding people for their work.

Instead, confidence is:

  • Making other people feel good about themselves.
  • Quietly believing in your own and others’ abilities.
  • Knowing that you can handle things that are thrown at you.
  • Publicly rewarding others for their good work while staying quiet about your own.
  • Always keeping the vision in mind and sticking to it.
  • Knowing your personal strengths and using them to help.
  • Communicating respectfully at all times.

Quiet confidence’ is something that is talked about a lot, and there is a misconception that it means just keeping to yourself and saying little. Actually, quiet confidence is about knowing that, whatever happens, things will go well so long as you and your team work together.

Confidence comes from the inside, and it isn’t something you can just pretend to have if you aren’t working on really developing it.

You can ‘fake it ‘till you make it’ to start, but the key is developing a belief in yourself and your abilities.

This comes from acknowledging your strengths to yourself so you know what you can do well. For the things you aren’t as good at, delegate the tasks to team members who may know more than you about a certain subject.

Another key to confidence links to vision. If you know and understand your vision intricately, you’ll always know what direction you are traveling in which will give you the confidence to move forward.

The reason confidence is so important is because you are the leader. Other people will be looking to you for answers, and if you aren’t outwardly confident, the team will lose confidence too.

You don’t need to be totally confident every second of every day – we all have times when we are unsure about something. In these situations, you need to take a step back and look at what is going on, then make a plan to go on. 

You’ll find that even the act of making a plan will make you feel more confident.

Lolly Daskal has a great blog post on specific steps you can take to become a more confident leader. If you want to go into real detail, check out her book, ‘The Leadership Gap’!

How to Use Confidence:

  • Decide what your strengths are and contribute those.
  • Be positive and make others feel good.
  • In times of uncertainty, analyze and make a plan.
  • Accept to make decisions under uncertainty, but showcase confidence in times of uncertainty

Positivity.

It’s a cliché, but it’s contagious!

Positivity and confidence are closely linked – the more positive you are, the more confident you will feel.

If you live in a glass-half-full world, you (and by extension your team) will believe anything is possible and you will fulfill more than you first thought you could.

On the other hand, if you’re glass-half-empty, you’ll see problems even if there aren’t any and watch the team’s morale plummet.

Another way that positivity is like confidence is that you aren’t expected to feel positive all the time.

There will be frustrating and tiring days, but if you’re able to see the positives in difficult times then solving problems will become so much easier.

When you’re in a good mind-frame, you can see more creative options and find solutions you never considered before. When you spread that positivity to your team, they will enjoy their work and be willing to work even harder on your collective goals.

So what can you do to make yourself feel more positive? It all links back to the vision you have created: if you keep your vision, and by extension your goals, in mind, it is much easier to motivate yourself.

Further, if you have spent time cultivating an interest in the finer details of how your organization works and thus grown your passion, the knock-on effect is more feelings of positivity around what you are doing.

This means that when you are feeling frustrated, you can take a step back to look at the bigger picture and remind yourself of what you’re working towards. You’ll find that if you get stuck in the details, you will feel more overwhelmed and less positive.

When you keep the reasons for why you are working in mind, positivity will come much easier. And like it says above, positivity is contagious and it will spread through your team – it’s your job to spark it!

How to implement Positivity:

  • Keep your interest and passion alive.
  • Use your vision to motivate you on tougher days.
  • If you’re feeling frustrated, step back and remember why you are doing what you’re doing.
  • Don’t get bogged down in the details: keep the big picture in mind.
  • Stay in the present and meditate when hell breaks out.

Accountability.

When you lead, you take responsibility for outcomes. No excuses.

The least popular leader is the one who takes all the credit when something good happens and blames everything else when it goes wrong. That’s a very efficient way to lose the respect of your team!

Mistakes happen – everyone makes them and 99% of the time they are not made through negligence. Usually mistakes happen due to a breakdown in communication, so make sure you are always clear with your messages and how you talk to your team.

When they do happen though, it’s important you take responsibility with your own bosses.

If something fairly major happened, it’s totally ok to take the team member aside and discuss what happened with them but as far as the rest of the world need be concerned, it’s on your head.

leadership qualities: accountability and performance
Source: visualcapitalist.com

The medical sector is good to look at for examples of accountability: because the actual practice of being a doctor is more about repetition of practical skills rather than book learning, it is totally accepted that a more junior doctor will make more errors.

So in hospitals there are strict hierarchies, and the most senior doctors take the rap for results made by their juniors. This isn’t questioned – it’s done for patient safety.

Whatever your organization is, take the idea of ‘patient safety’ and make that mean something for you – maybe it’s customer satisfaction or increased sales, but whatever it is you are ultimately responsible for ensuring it happens.

If it doesn’t, even if the precise reasons why weren’t your doing, it’s still your job to hold up your hands and sort it out.

On the flip side, don’t take credit all for yourself when things go right! That must be a team achievement, and while you are one of the team, people need to be rewarded for their good work.

You’re in a position of power as a leader, and are less likely to be on the firing line for a mistake than someone lower down the pecking order.

It sounds dramatic, but you taking responsibility (which will likely be no skin off your nose) could save someone their job down the line. 

When your team knows you’ve got their back, they will be far more likely to come to you with small mistakes without fear of blow-back on them – this means you’ll catch errors when they are small and be in the best position to fix them before they get bigger.

value of leadership accountability
Source: visualcapitalist.com/

How to Be Accountable:

  • Accept that whatever happens, it’s your responsibility in the end.
  • Be the protecting figure between your team and the higher bosses.
  • Make sure to give everyone praise for a job well done.
  • Consider how the concept of patient safety can be applied to your role.

Ability to Inspire.

Use your vision to bring out the best in others, and sell it passionately. When you’re truly passionate, it shows.

The ability to inspire brings together almost every other skill of leadership, but particularly vision, positivity, and communication.

Inspiring your team starts with excellent communication. Your aim here is to excite your team into wanting to do their absolute best, and through that get the most out of everyone.

When you communicate with a true passion that comes from inside yourself – not just repeating lines in a monotonous way that clearly means nothing to you – you get the team behind you. Speak from the heart, and tell your team why they should care about the project.

impact of uninspiring leaders
Source: forbes.com

Once again, vision is so important here: the vision keeps your mind on the bigger picture.

Well, it also acts as the guiding light you can follow in the dark, and when you can really sell your vision to other people, they will be inspired by what you are all trying to achieve.

Faking passion and interest won’t work when you’re trying to inspire: you can see right through it. I bet you can think of a politician that you know just doesn’t care about a certain topic – do you want to do what they say? No, of course not!

To make sure you don’t end up like that politician, you need to make sure that the fire exists within you.

When you don’t need to fake it, your team won’t need to fake it either and you’ll find yourselves a motivated group of people willing to go that extra mile to achieve. 

Learning how to inspire people is perhaps the skill that will require the most practice because it involves getting good at pretty much every other leadership trait we have mentioned. 

Inspiring people comes from a strong vision, accountability and integrity, communication, confidence, positivity, including your whole team, and your own willingness to chip in and get your hands dirty. 

Getting your hands dirty means being involved and putting your team first. ‘Leaders Eat Last’ is a book by Simon Sinek where he discusses how to create the best possible team. You can also listen to his TED Talk about how to inspire action as a leader.

How to Be Inspiring:

  • Make sure your passion comes from you – not just parroting what you think ‘sounds’ inspiring.
  • Practice implementing all the leadership skills – even doing just that, you’ll be halfway there!
  • Make sure you keep the vision in everyone’s minds. Tell them why it’s worth working for.
  • Sell the vision, sell the results!

Self-Motivation.

Keep the hunger and fire for delivering results, even on your tired days.

Just like confidence and positivity, no one expects you to be hyper-motivated at all times! As we have said with the other skills though, what you feel on the inside is not really the point, it’s what you convey to your team.

With self-motivation, as the leader you need to remember why you are doing what you are doing.

It’s all for a bigger goal, so the more you keep that goal in mind the less you are going to get dragged down by the boring everyday. 

When you keep yourself on track, you can keep everyone else motivated much more easily. 

Self-motivation is more about discipline than it is about some magical drive to do things. Like resilience, self-motivation has to do with consistently showing up and making small steps of progress every day.

This graphic below from James Clear shows what happens when you make just a tiny bit of progress all the time. 

power of tiny gains on productivity and progress
Source: jamesclear.com

What this shows is that when you get just 1% better each day, you can end up nearly 38x better by the end of the year than you were at the beginning. But look at the second number! If you aren’t consistent and you average getting one percent worse, look how low that figure gets!

The point of this is to show you that while ‘self-motivation’ is a nice idea, it’s not the same kind of motivation as that which you use to inspire and move others. When you’re focusing on other people, you’re looking to get them feeling committed to the goal.

With you, it’s more difficult to give yourself a great speech and suddenly feel amazingly motivated, so instead you just have to rely on consistent effort for amazing results. Discipline is the real skill behind self-motivation!

How to Be Self-Motivated:

  • Remember that self motivation is really discipline.
  • Keep making consistent efforts to improve every day.
  • How you feel on the inside is less important than what you convey to your team.

Why Are Leadership Skills and Leadership Development Important?

So, maybe you’ve got this far and you’re thinking, ‘this is great and all, but do I really need to put work into bringing these leadership qualities into my organization? Aren’t I doing just fine now?’

The answer to that is yeah, you probably are doing ‘just fine’ – but don’t you want to be amazing? Imagine: more work in less time, clear goals, and a happier workforce! What’s not to love?!

That’s why these leadership skills are so vital: did you know that 89% of executives believe that strengthening leadership is a top priority, but at the same time only 19% of organizations consider themselves ‘very effective’ at developing leadership?

What’s even worse, 71% of companies don’t feel their leaders will be able to take the organization into the future.

So clearly, while developing your own leadership is great for you personally, it’s also going to be great for your organization.

Because if you want a future for your company, someone is going to need to lead it. It all really is that important.

Studies have shown that companies who implement leadership development can get as much as a 415% ROI after a year. That is a HUGE benefit that equated to over $2,000 extra per participant. 

Maybe you feel like you don’t have time to implement the vital qualities of leadership, and you’d be better getting on with your work.

But these figures show how much potential there is to improve your entire business just through the simple process of becoming a better leader.

Leadership skills are the magic bullet for your organization – they improve things no end, and all you have to do is focus on the 14 skills we have covered in this article.

leadership development statistics
Source: chieflearningofficer.com

It is clear that a team can only be as good as their leader allows them to be. Leadership is all about unlocking potential, so if there aren’t any good leaders no potential can be unlocked. 

And the only way to unlock your leadership potential is to know these 14 leadership skills inside out.

Leadership Qualities and Traits FAQ

What is the best definition of leadership?

Leadership is uniting a group of people behind a common goal and creating an environment wherein they can fulfill their potentials and achieve aims. Excelling as a leader means knowing your team’s strengths and weaknesses, and using that knowledge in the best way that leads to success.

Why is leadership an important skill?

Leadership is vital in all aspects of life. If there were no leaders, and everyone tried to control every situation, nothing would get done.

Leaders provide the necessary sense of direction required to complete big, complex projects over long periods of time. It isn’t just in the workplace that leadership is important – in every part of life, leaders are required.

In your personal life, your roles might shift: sometimes you’ve organized a holiday so you’re leading the trip, other times someone is showing you around their home city and they’re the leader. Nonetheless, whatever the role having someone in the role of directing a project, whatever that is, keeps things running smoothly.

What is the fastest way to acquire leadership qualities?

Then, put all of the 14 skills into practice – using the 1% rule from James Clear, you can see how even improving very slightly everyday will compound over time, making you an amazing leader quickly.

While you’re still practicing putting these skills to use, keep a very simple principle in mind: lead as you would want to be led. That means respecting people as you would want to be respected and behaving as a compassionate professional at all times.

What are the 6 leadership traits?

Integrity, resilience, humility, empathy, positivity, and accountability. These are traits more than they are skills because they are aspects of your character that you can develop.

Learning traits is about learning a mind-set rather than a process as is the case with skills – but don’t think that means they can’t be learned!

You just have to keep in mind the principle of leading how you’d want to be led and go from there. Before you know it, you’ll be acing all these traits!

What are the 8 leadership skills?

Creating vision, making decisions, being result-oriented, delegation, communication, confidence, the ability to inspire, and self-motivation.

These are all things that can be learned in very concrete steps, and they are things that you put into practice at specific times, whereas the traits are constant. For example, you might not be needing to inspire every minute of the day, but you do always need empathy!

What is the difference between a manager and a leader?

A manager keeps you on track, but a leader inspires you to go even further than you thought you could. Basically, a manager will certainly keep people organized and keep things generally on track, but everyone will be bored and results won’t be as good.

That’s not what we want! That’s where the leader steps in – leadership is about inspiring, and it is also about achieving above and beyond what you thought you could. The tips we have given in this article will make sure you do just that!

What makes a good manager?

A good manager keeps the plates spinning and makes sure everyone does their job. They keep you organized and have the role of overseeing a project (or large part of a project).

They are highly organized and excellent with administration, as well as being good at keeping track of people. They know the individuals in their team well, and can work as part of the group.

How do you identify a real leader?

You will be drawn to a real leader and be made to feel like you really want to do your best for them – that’s how you identify them. It’s a case of ‘you know it when you see it’. If you apply all the vital leadership qualities, you’ll also be one of those leaders people are drawn to.

You’ll know a real leader when you see someone who really cares about their team and is bothered about getting the best from everyone, and making sure the working environment is best suited to doing just that.

What should a leader not do?

There are more things that a leader should not do than should do – which makes it really easy for you to learn what to do?

A leader should never be disrespectful to the people working for them. They should never behave irresponsibly or micromanage their team. If they come into work every day frustrated, bored and unenthusiastic, they will fail to get everything that the team is capable of and they will ultimately fail themselves too.

A leader must never be sly or underhand because they will immediately lose the trust and respect of the team.

So What Should You Do Next to Practice Your Leadership Skills?

We’ve come to the end of a real deep-dive into everything you need to know to be an incredible leader. From everything we’ve discussed, you’ll notice that there are some basic principles throughout:

  1. Always keep the idea of the team in mind: You’re a group of people working seamlessly together, pursuing the same goals, and all with your own hopes, dreams and strengths. When you focus on the team, and not just on you, you will instantly be a better leader.
  2. Lead as you would want to be led: You can’t go too far wrong if you stick to this rule while you are learning to implement everything from this article. Treat people as valuable members of your enterprise, and you will be paid dividends in their respect right back! 

You need to internalize the 14 qualities of exceptional leadership and make a point of implementing them. 

Get leadership development training and watch your productivity soar – it will pay dividends in the future!

We know you’re already a good leader, but these are the things you need to be really great. Keep your passion, and enjoy your projects!

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Anastasia Belyh
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