Characteristics of a Good Leader and Leadership Qualities List

A lot of experience and research has identified a set of key leadership qualities that define the characteristics of a good leader in business organisations and successful work teams. In this case we are talking about the attributes of a good leader, that is their personal traits, not their function or role in organisations.

It is when people in key positions don't have the required leadership skills that the morale and productivity of the organisation suffers.

Often the reasons why people are promoted relates more to their productivity, innovation and success in completing tasks rather than leadership abilities. Yet the more senior positions are the ones that depend on good leadership so that the group being supervised and led, is productive and highly motivated. Few organisations have tools to assess leadership abilities and success.

This article aims to summarise the essential characteristics of a good leader. It also provides a list if the good and bad leadership qualities in a list.

Undertanding the traits required for good leadership is the key to successful businesses. Yet leadership characteristics are poorly understood.
Undertanding the traits required for good leadership is the key to successful businesses. Yet leadership characteristics are poorly understood. | Source

Good Leaders are Outstanding Communicators

Good communication is something that is learned and can be adapted to the situation in which its applied. It also requires a very clear and precise understanding about the purposes of the communication, as different types are required for different purposes.

Good communication operates back and forth: speaking and listening, digesting and responding.

Good communication requires a great deal of skill and the abilities to monitor and response so that the communication remains healthy dynamic and meets the requirement of all people in the team or group.

A good leader is responsible and engaged in their own communication and also the communication of the group.

Good Leaders have Emotional Stability and Maturity

Emotionally mature leaders recognise that they don't know everything about everything, and that they don't need to know everything or be the smartest person in the group. Leadership is about knowing where to find the right information, what to do with it and what really is irrelevant.

Seeking information from colleagues and their advice is part of leading an effective team. Good leaders don't waste time tripping over their egos and defending their ignorance. Knowledge applied properly is what empowers not knowledge known.

Good Leaders have their Own finances in Good Shape

While this should not matter personal financial issues have a way of becoming very stressful and distracting, and can negatively impact on the process of making timely decisions. It is also a classic symptom of incompetence in management. If someone can't manage their own finances, why would anyone expect them to manage the business’ finances. These difficulties can also be a distraction interfering with their ability to make rational, well-considered and sound management decisions.

Good Leaders have Adequate Technical Competency

While a good leader does not have to be the best of the best, and to recognise the deficiencies and lack of knowledge they need to be highly proficient in the basic technical knowledge required for each area of their work. If not they will flounder and will not be able to communicate their objectives and ideas with people and provide genuine leadership for future development.

Good Leaders are Passionate Supporters of the Organisation

It goes without saying that a leader should be devoted and fully engaged in the objectives and function of the organisation. But a really good leader should be passionate about it and showcase this passion in all their activities. Any form of criticism of others, especially the more senior staff, undermines the organisation. Leaders always set a reliable, genuine and trustworthy example to their staff – through both words and actions – that the organisation (senior management and all staff and systems) requires their respect. A good leader supports and enhances the information coming from senior management. They don't filter and de-sanitise information and initiatives provided by senior management, they support, enhance and commit themselves to it. They reinforce the communication from leaders above. If there is a problem they work confidentially with the senior staff in a proactive way to find a better way of achieving the same outcome. Nothing can destroy a leader’s position than just giving lip service to things.

Good Leaders Display Sound and Logical Judgment

An effective leader must understand and be able to utilise all parts of the company. This includes knowing how all the elements are interconnected, future plans. They must also be able to predict the implications or various initiative on the company as a whole. It is great to have new ideas, but pushing them when they clearly will interfere or disrupt some other part of the organisation is not sound business logic. A good manager understands the competing priorities that may impinge on a decision. The good leader knows how to integrate all the competing issues in a logical way so that the changes reflect balance in their decision making, and represent good judgments.

Good leaders have Empathy and Understanding

Empathy is crucial for effective communication which requires both being understood in what is discussed but also fully understanding the other person. Without this two-way understanding and listening the communication can degenerate to a set of instructions without the other person being engaged and committed. A good leader takes the time and effort to understand each of their team members and how to motivate them and bring them on board.

Good Leaders Build Excellence

Leaders do not command excellence, they build excellence not only for themselves but for their staff. Team excellence is the sum of all the parts and contributors in the team. Commitment to ecellentce and 'nothing but the best' is a great way to build team morale. It also means a commitment for the development and enhance of the capabiliikly of all the staff in the team to rewalise their full potential.

Traits of a Good Leader

  • Honest - Display sincerity, integrity, and honesty in all their actions. Deceptive behavior destroys trust.
  • Competent - Bases actions on reason, logic and moral principles. Does not make decisions based unsound emotional feelings, desires or need to protect their standing.
  • Forward-looking - Sets goals and has a vision for their own future and that for the team they manage. The vision they push is owned, aligned and endorsed by the organization.
  • Inspiring - Display confidence in all that they do and have an infectious enthusiasm to succeed. They show patience and endurance in physical, mental and emotional stamina, and inspire others to reach for shared heights and goals. Take charge when necessary.
  • Intelligent - Seek challenging assignments and do the research and development required to achieve goals.
  • Fair-minded - Show fair and respectful treatment in dealing with everyone. They display empathy towards other by being sensitive to the feelings, interests, abilities, development needs, values and well-being.
  • Broad-minded - Seek out and cherish diversity.
  • Courageous - Have the perseverance and determination to achieve goal, irrespective of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. They are adaptive and resourceful in finding alternative pathways and solutions. They display calmness when under stress.
  • Straightforward - Their judgment is sound and their decisions are easily understood because they are honest and logical.
  • Imaginative and Innovative - They make timely and appropriate changes to thinking, ideas plans and methods. They are receptive of new ideas and have the creativity to develop suggestions and ideas into solutions to problems.
  • Trustworthy - They show trust which is the basis for all relationships and communication.
  • Aware and Insightful About Their Impact On Others- The best leaders understand their team and how their decisions will impact on individuals. They have the skills to work through and make changes while building relationships.
  • Love To Learn, Grow, Develop, Achieve
  • Have High Self Worth and Self Esteem
  • Exude Self Confidence
  • Control of Emotions - An effective leader must have complete control and mastery of their emotions.
  • Knowledge of Teamwork - Leaders know the strengths and weaknesses of their employees and know how to utilize all the skills of each individual. They know how to build and maintain morale.
  • Know How to Delegate Authority


A list of Leadership Qualities is shown in the table below:

Good and Bad Leadership Qualities

Positive, Good Leadership Qualities
Negative, Bad Leadership Qualities
A doer
Aggression
Good ability
Analysis Paralysis – i.e. indecisiveness.
Ambitious
Arrogance
Authentic
Being a poor role model
Broad-minded
Being callous and harsh
Compassionate
Being cheap and not providing updates
Competent
Belittling attitude to staff
Confident
Bossy
Courageous
Bullying
Creative
Circumventing staff roles and responsibilities
Decisive
Controlling
Developer
Deceitful and uncaring
Fair
Denigrating staff member in front of others
Fair-minded
Dishonesty
Flexible
Disregarding the health and welfare of your staff
Forward-looking
Disrespect for staff
Good listener
Dogmatic
Honest
Doing things that are self-serving
Imaginative
Don't reward staff
Inspiring
Driven by rules
Integrators
Failure to delegate
Intelligent
Failure to provide adequate resources
Knowledgeable
Failure to provide advancement opportunities
Open to Learning
Failure to provide staff with adequate training
people-oriented)
Filaure to acknowledge staff achievements
Persistent
Holding past mistakes against staff forever
Persuasive
Ignorance
Respectful
Ignoring other staff
Responsible
Ignoring the need for change
Self Aware
Impulsiveness
Standard Bearers
Incompetence in critcial function and failure to address it
Straightforward
Indecisiveness
Strong
Infrequent communication with staff
Trustworthy
Lying to your staff, trying to cover it up
Visionary
Misinterpreting signs and signal
Willing to take advice, criticism
Not creating and efficent structure in your organization.
Willingness to help
Not empowering your staff to succeed.
 
Not providing executive level sponsorship for your management.
 
Not providing proper working environments.
 
Not setting a clear vision
 
Playing favorites with staff
 
Poor personal management
 
Poor planning for the future
 
Reluctant to make decisions
 
Rude
 
Selfishness
 
Shoouting at staff
 
Stupidity
 
Unable to take criticism
 
Unethical business practices
 
Unforgiving of staff mistakes
 
Unwilling to learn from criticism.
 
Unwillingness to take risks
 
Using threats to control and 'motivate' staff
 
Won't admit mistakes

© 2012 Dr. John Anderson

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Comments 2 comments

SidKemp profile image

SidKemp 3 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach)

Thank you, this is an excellent list. I especially like "Good Leaders Build Excellence."


Conservative Lady profile image

Conservative Lady 2 years ago from Surprise Arizona - formerly resided in Washington State

As a manager and leader I strive to hire people who could take my job in a heartbeat. They keep me on my toes and make me work hard to keep them happy in their jobs. Interesting hub.

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