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10 Qualities of a Real Leader

Updated on March 11, 2010
Good Leader - Nelson Mandela
Good Leader - Nelson Mandela

During my period of taking up leadership roles till date, I have seen and served under different kinds of leadership both the good and the ugly. As a result, I have come to truly agree that everything rises and falls on leadership.

I will be sharing from my findings and experience what I consider to be the top 10 qualities of a real leader. A real leader in this case is not one who possess a title but the person who leads without the title of a leader. Be informed that it is not the position that makes the leader but the leader that makes the position.

So, here are the top 10 qualities you need to possess as a Real Leader:

1. Ability to Communicate the Vision

For you to be the leader of people, you must be able to share the vision of your organization with your team or followers. You as a leader must be able to lead the people with a clear picture of your goals and objectives in mind and must be well written out for clarity sake.

Every vision must be plainly written so that your followers might be able to run with your vision. So, communicating the vision is a very vital part in the life of an organization but often ignored by the leader.

There is a need to constantly communicate the vision to every member of your team else people will begin to work outside of the vision and when this happens, it will be as bad as not having a vision to run by.

You as a leader must be a great communicator communicating effectively the vision to your people else they will start running the organization based on assumptions. The result of that will be lack of direction.

You need to understand the fact that vision leaks, thus, the need to be communicated clearly and continually to all members of the team including the new people joining your team or organisation.

2. Ability to Connect with People

You might be the one of the best leaders to cast the best vision ever heard, but without the ability to connect with the people within your team, that vision is not going to be actualized.

Great vision without great people equals failure; however, great vision plus great people equals success. There is a need for every real leader to be a people person; to show how much he cares for his people.

He must be able to relate with each one of them. Until you start showing people how much you care about them and not just using them for your own personal purpose or agenda, they won’t be putting in their best into your organisation.

Always learn to touch people’s lives first before asking them for a hand. Think of what you can give to them and not just what you can get out of them.

When was the last time you asked about the welfare of your team member – I mean when was the last time you asked about his family, weekend or even about how he is getting on with his job.

Your team wants to know you care about them. Help them to solve some of their problems and they will be glad you did and they will have more reasons to love their work and respect you.

However, try not to encroach their privacy by requesting to know what they are not willing to tell you. Their openness to you will grow with time.

3. Empower - Equip and Develop People

The key to people following you is by you empowering them.

Begin to equip your followers with the necessary things needed to carry out their work more effectively and efficiently.

Provide them with the training needed to make their tasks more easy i.e. provide hardware equipments, software trainings and other resources needed to discharge their duties without draining out the life in them.

There is a need to invest in the things stated above as they will in turn increase the productivity of your organisation.

Developing your people is another area that shouldn’t be overlooked. Make efforts to provide opportunities for their personal growth. Add value to them by helping them to personally improve themselves.

Set up trainings within your team that allows them to learn new skills. Organize for them seminars on leadership skills, people skills, management, communication skills, time management and lots more.

All these will add value to them as a person and will make them feel they are growing and that they are being invested on. These are things that are useful not only within your organization but also in their everyday lives.

So, as a real leader, you must possess this great quality to empower your people

4. Accept Responsibilities Others Won’t

Note that this information is not for positional leaders by title but to the real leaders who are recognized by the function they perform within their team or organisation.

Now, with that in mind, there are some responsibilities you must accept which others won’t. You must be ready to take on the extra work.

This ability will set you apart as a diligent leader; don’t just delegate the jobs, get your hands dirty and be a leader by example. Your people will get to work even before they are told to when they see you on the job.

Create the kind of working environment and work ethics you want for your organization and your people will follow you. You just need to set the pace.

5. Be a Learner

One of the qualities of a real leader is to commit to life-long learning. You need to understand that the day a leader dies is the day he stops learning but until then, he must commit himself to learning.

He must learn from the people he leads, from the people in his field, by reading books, journals, blogs and various sites on his subject of interest. Whoever does not continue to learn his dead while alive.

Knowledge is a product of learning; so, I cannot imagine myself to stop learning. Knowledge is the life-wire of every great leader and you cannot be an exemption.

The Bible says, “A wise man will hear and increase in learning” (Proverbs 1:5). New technologies are evolving, new information and resource are emerging every day – ignorance will not be an excuse for your failure.

The more you are informed, the more the growth that will be seen in your organization. So, keep learning.

6. Be a Good Listener

Many leaders do the talking but great leaders listen. It is my believe that he who talks more than necessary speaks from the abundance of his heart and makes empty himself but he who does the listening accumulates knowledge from what others have said.

Being a good listener is actually another way of learning and no course is needed to possess this great quality but just by practicing it, a leader could start exhibiting it.

All these qualities are to be put into practice over and over again to become our second nature.

Even if some are born or gifted with the qualities described so far, anyone can by all means learn them equally to become a great leader too.

7. Ability to Effect Change

Change is inevitable. Every real leader must be an agent of change in other to take the organization to the next level. It is however not true that every leader is an agent of change.

Change has to be carefully and masterfully implemented has it will cause a lot of complaints even chaos from followers that are not open to change.

It is the nature of most people to not embrace change as new systems and operations might be needed for the further growth of the organization and as a result you as a leader must be able to communicate clearly and creatively the need for the changes that are about to take place.

You must be able to employ different strategies of informing your people. The same process of casting the vision needs to be employed.

One way of achieving this is to first educate the people that will actually bring about the change by explaining to them the need for the change, the change strategy, the result of the change and how it benefits the team and organisation.

Until your people buy into the change process, you might be running things on your own with little or no result. So, the leader must be able to get the people along at every stage of the change.

Here, communication and feedbacks are vital. Your people must feel part of the process else the whole purpose will be defeated.

8. Purpose Driven

Any leader who is not purpose driven is not fit to be called a leader because every great leader understands the reasons behind their actions.

Although they don’t know everything, they know why their vision has to remain the same.

You need to understand that the vision you have cast shouldn’t change, nevertheless, your strategies, methods or approaches can all change as deem necessary based on various factors at any given point in time.

As a leader, you must understand that when there is no purpose, there is no vision and when the people lack vision they perish because there is no target.

For you to become a great leader you must see and understand the need to be purpose driven and not event driven.

9. Admit Your Mistakes

No one is absolutely perfect, therefore, ensure your best but always admit your mistakes whenever they happen.

The people you lead want to see your transparency. They know you are not an angel but they are waiting to see how you will handle failure.

Don’t paint yourself as an angel to them in the first instance but let them know that you are as human as they are only trying to get things right. But admit failures when they arise and learn the lesson within your failures.

Failure is not sin, it is just an evidence that success was attempted. So let them see the transparency in you and not pass the blame so they can do the same also.

10. Commit Yourself to the 9 Qualities Above

Now, you know the 10 qualities of a real leader; what are you going to do with this vital information? Since you have come this far, why not start applying them and start seeing the changes in your leadership experience.

Thanks for taking the time to read this piece and your comments will be highly welcomed.


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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      thank's for the #info but will you help with differntion between planning and descision making

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Nice one ... keep posting

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Thanks for that, the real leader will make good changes wherever he goes.We need leaders not managers these days.

      Happiness will bring success.

      wish all the best in life.

    • profile image

      Steven Ola 

      7 years ago

      God bless u, i'm happy to read this..

    • sonuparashar profile image

      Sonu Parashar 

      7 years ago from India

      It is really very informative. Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      thank you for sharing about the qualities of a real leader...

    • profile image

      G- life 

      8 years ago

      this advise is naturite my mine thank for sharing

    • N.E. Wright profile image

      N E Wright 

      8 years ago from Dover, Delaware

      Hello Betteryou,

      This is great advice.

      Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      This is great article. i was inspired after reading it. thanks a lot.

    • betteryou profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from London UK

      Thanks Daniel for stopping by to view my hub. I hope my hubs helps one way or the other. Many Thanks.

    • Daniel Carter profile image

      Daniel Carter 

      9 years ago from Salt Lake City, Utah

      Very, very good article. Welcome to Hubpages! Looking forward to reading much more greatness from you!


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