The Top 10 Leadership Qualities

Updated: September 26, 2015

Introduction

Leadership can be defined as one's ability to get others to willingly follow. Every organization needs leaders at every level. Leaders can be found and nurtured if you look for the following character traits.

A leader with vision has a clear, vivid picture of where to go, as well as a firm grasp on what success looks like and how to achieve it. But it's not enough to have a vision; leaders must also share it and act upon it. Jack Welch, former chairman and CEO of General Electric Co., said, "Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision and relentlessly drive it to completion."

A leader must be able to communicate his or her vision in terms that cause followers to buy into it. He or she must communicate clearly and passionately, as passion is contagious.

A good leader must have the discipline to work toward his or her vision single-mindedly, as well as to direct his or her actions and those of the team toward the goal. Action is the mark of a leader. A leader does not suffer "analysis paralysis" but is always doing something in pursuit of the vision, inspiring others to do the same.

 

Analysis

Integrity is the integration of outward actions and inner values. A person of integrity is the same on the outside and on the inside. Such an individual can be trusted because he or she never veers from inner values, even when it might be expeditious to do so. A leader must have the trust of followers and therefore must display integrity.

Honest dealings, predictable reactions, well-controlled emotions, and an absence of tantrums and harsh outbursts are all signs of integrity. A leader who is centered in integrity will be more approachable by followers.

Dedication means spending whatever time or energy is necessary to accomplish the task at hand. A leader inspires dedication by example, doing whatever it takes to complete the next step toward the vision. By setting an excellent example, leaders can show followers that there are no nine-to-five jobs on the team, only opportunities to achieve something great.

Magnanimity means giving credit where it is due. A magnanimous leader ensures that credit for successes is spread as widely as possible throughout the company. Conversely, a good leader takes personal responsibility for failures. This sort of reverse magnanimity helps other people feel good about themselves and draws the team closer together. To spread the fame and take the blame is a hallmark of effective leadership.

Leaders with humility recognize that they are no better or worse than other members of the team. A humble leader is not self-effacing but rather tries to elevate everyone. Leaders with humility also understand that their status does not make them a god. Mahatma Gandhi is a role model for Indian leaders, and he pursued a "follower-centric" leadership role.

Openness means being able to listen to new ideas, even if they do not conform to the usual way of thinking. Good leaders are able to suspend judgment while listening to others' ideas, as well as accept new ways of doing things that someone else thought of. Openness builds mutual respect and trust between leaders and followers, and it also keeps the team well supplied with new ideas that can further its vision.

Creativity is the ability to think differently, to get outside of the box that constrains solutions. Creativity gives leaders the ability to see things that others have not seen and thus lead followers in new directions. The most important question that a leader can ask is, "What if … ?" Possibly the worst thing a leader can say is, "I know this is a dumb question ... "

Fairness means dealing with others consistently and justly. A leader must check all the facts and hear everyone out before passing judgment. He or she must avoid leaping to conclusions based on incomplete evidence. When people feel they that are being treated fairly, they reward a leader with loyalty and dedication.

Assertiveness is not the same as aggressiveness. Rather, it is the ability to clearly state what one expects so that there will be no misunderstandings. A leader must be assertive to get the desired results. Along with assertiveness comes the responsibility to clearly understand what followers expect from their leader.

Many leaders have difficulty striking the right amount of assertiveness, according to a study in the February 2007 issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, published by the APA (American Psychological Association). It seems that being underassertive or overassertive may be the most common weakness among aspiring leaders.

A sense of humor is vital to relieve tension and boredom, as well as to defuse hostility. Effective leaders know how to use humor to energize followers. Humor is a form of power that provides some control over the work environment. And simply put, humor fosters good camaraderie.

Intrinsic traits such as intelligence, good looks, height and so on are not necessary to become a leader. Anyone can cultivate the proper leadership traits.

Featured Research
  • 7 Signs Your Small Business Is Ready For Contact Center Software

    Investing in a cloud-based contact center can give your small company more control over your customer experience through centralized tools and features. But as with any other investment in your small company, timing is essential. Here are seven key signals that your small business is ready to benefit from a contact center software system. more

  • VoIP 2019 Year-In-Review

    2019 was a busy and profitable year in the VoIP industry marked by growing cloud system adoption, new feature roll outs, and technological innovations that all worked together to propel VoIP to the mainstream phone system technology preferred by most all companies, large and small. Our VoIP 2019 Year-In-Review explores all of our favorite VoIP providers, features, and innovations of the year and takes a peek at the trends on the horizon for VoIP in 2020. more

  • CRM Growth Strategies for Mid-Sized Companies

    Modern CRM solutions offer enhanced features, tools, and integrations that can help you not only drive productivity and profits, but also position your mid-sized company for growth. In conjunction with simply having CRM software, though, you must also create a strategy that fully utilizes all the tools and features to your best business advantage. Our new whitepaper explores CRM growth strategies that your medium-sized company can leverage to spur business growth across sales, support, marketing, and more. more

  • Why Every SMB Should Be Using A CRM

    CRM software is one of the most ubiquitous business software must-haves, and companies of all types and sizes rely on CRM systems to manage contacts, leads, customer care, and more. Due to the availability and affordability of cloud software, small businesses have the opportunity to invest in a CRM much sooner than ever before. Our new whitepaper covers the reasons why every small company should be using a CRM and explains why early adoption is beneficial for small businesses. more

  • Small Business Software Toolkit 2019

    Small businesses that adopt cloud systems early on are able to grow quickly and build necessary infrastructure and efficiency that would typically have come years down the road for a small business. Our latest whitepaper explores the key opportunities small businesses can achieve by embracing cloud systems and recommends which cloud-based software solutions you should invest in first as part of your small business software toolkit. more