30 Leadership Qualities for Great Leaders

30 Leadership Qualities for Great Leaders

    Whats Inside?

  1. Conclusion

Eller College of Management defines leadership qualities as traits that a leader has that help them to excel in their role. Lacking these traits, a leader can have trouble accomplishing goals, upholding a positive work atmosphere, or controlling their team. The GoRemotely report on 22 Inspiring Leadership Statistics for a Successful 2023 shows that only 14% of CEOs have the leadership talent they need to grow their businesses.

There has been much talk about leadership qualities. Here are some quick stats on leadership qualities according to research:

  • According to Zippia's 2023 report on leadership statistics, only 10% of people have inherent leadership abilities, while another 20% possess some fundamental managerial skills that can be developed into superior leadership.
  • The ability to motivate others is the most crucial leadership quality(Forbes).
  • In a Harvard 360 review from 2019, women outperformed men in 17 of the 19 categories that separate exceptional leaders from average or mediocre ones, including collaborating, communicating, and building relationships.
  • Among employees, only 48% think that the leadership at their firm is "high quality."(Zippia)

Related: 20 Examples Of Transformational Leaders

Let us look at the 30 core qualities of effective leadership that characterize exceptional leaders and help create successful teams and companies.

1. Accountability

Accountability is one of the most important leadership qualities because it demonstrates dependability and reliability. The most effective leaders, however, are those who learn to embrace accountability and empathy while fostering a work climate of high performance and trust, according to a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management. Holding people accountable for their actions will create a sense of responsibility among your subordinates, who will take the business more seriously.

2. Action-oriented


An action-oriented leader has a keen sense of urgency, concentrating on and completing the current task. Action orientation promotes an environment where leaders and employees win. According to a McKinsey & Company study, action-oriented leaders are more likely to succeed in the long run because they can change with the times and seize chances.

3. Effective communication

Effective communication is one of the most crucial leadership qualities and a defining trait of a competent leader. In a 2023 report on The State of Business Communication, 72% of corporate leaders agree that improved team productivity has resulted from effective communication. However, according to Harvard Business Review, two-thirds of managers are uncomfortable communicating with employees.

4. Constructive feedback

Constructive feedback is defined by PeepStrategy as a supportive communication tool to encourage individual and organizational growth. Great leaders give constructive feedback where the recipient is aware of the essential changes to make and how to make them. 68% of employees who receive regular feedback feel satisfied in their careers, according to a Clutch survey.

5. Ethical

Leaders that act ethically exhibit behavior that adheres to accepted standards and values. A 2021 report by the World Economic Forum suggests that workers have a strong need for ethical leadership, yet there is a shortage. The company's reputation, productivity, and employee engagement may all increase under ethical leadership.

Related: Examples of Bad Leaders in Business

6. Motivated

The driving force behind people's and teams' greatest efforts is motivation. Gilbert (2018) found that their followers perceived leaders with higher autonomous motivation as engaging in more active-constructive leadership behaviors. The ability to motivate and inspire passion among team members is a quality possessed by great leaders. Before motivating their people, great leaders must first motivate themselves to create a positive and productive environment.

7. Active Listening

Effective leadership goes hand in hand with being an active listener. According to 'Gitnux's report on Active Listening Statistics and Trends in 2023, 64% of HR professionals identified active listening as the most critical leadership quality. A leader who pays close attention to what their team is saying receives insightful information about their needs and worries and demonstrates respect and empathy.

8. Delegation

One of the most important leadership qualities is delegation. It is not just a means to lighten the leader's workload but a method of empowerment. Leaders who give their team members authority and responsibility show their confidence in them. A 2015 Gallup study of the entrepreneurial talents of 143 CEOs on the Inc. 500 list showed that companies run by executives who pass on authority will experience faster growth and more revenue. CEOs with high delegator talent also generated 33% greater revenue in 2013 than those with low or limited talent levels.

9. Time management

Effective time management is crucial to accomplishing organization tasks and avoiding wasting valuable organizational assets. Time is a precious resource in the role of leadership. As a leader, your time is not just your own; it is a valuable resource that must be allocated to benefit not only you but also your organization and stakeholders. Organizations and businesses can learn to endure in the face of competition and experience great commercial success through effective time management (Gea,2014).

10. Goal-oriented

Goal-oriented leaders typically have a clearer vision of where their team is headed and spend more time reviewing their performance. According to research by Sonnentag, which comprises 44 team leaders and 141 other members of software development projects, team leaders with high goal orientation will positively impact how well their teams perform. Goal-setting assists leaders in maintaining their attention on what matters most and achieving the organization's overall objectives.

Leadership qualities for great leaders

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11. Strategic planning

Strategic planning is defined by Tech Target as a process in which leaders of an organization outline their vision for the future and determine their organization's goals and objectives. Leaders are typically the ones who create long-term strategic plans. Strategic planning can be a specific tool for company success. It improves the understanding of the organization's strengths and weaknesses and helps identify future opportunities or challenges, making it one of the crucial leadership qualities (Beerel,1998).

12. Humility

A survey of 105 computer software and hardware firms published in the Journal of Management revealed that humility in CEOs led to higher-performing leadership teams, increased collaboration and cooperation and flexibility in developing strategies. A model of lifelong learning and listening that makes people teachable and flexible is ensured by humble leaders, who likewise operate with the assumption that they don't know it all.

13. Emotional intelligence

According to Harvard Business School, emotional intelligence is the capacity to comprehend, control, and affect your emotions and those around you. A 2023 study exploring the impact of emotionally intelligent leaders on organizational performance and employee engagement showed that emotionally intelligent leaders foster improved organizational success and more staff engagement. The emotionally intelligent leader is more likely to manage many crisis relationships successfully.

14. Passion and enthusiasm

Passion means doing what you love. According to The Ordinary Leader, leaders can ignite the passion of their team members by demonstrating true enthusiasm for their work. Passionate leaders will naturally want to work more than anyone else. Passion is one of the most important qualities of a good leader, as it leads to self-motivation and hard work.

15. Resilience

According to the Harvard Business Review, resilience has a favourable impact on job satisfaction and engagement. In the dynamic world of leadership, failures are inevitable. Challenges are seen as growth opportunities by resilient leaders. Their capacity to remain upbeat in the face of challenges and return stronger inspires their team, highlighting the value of resilience and adaptation.

16. Transparency

According to Leaderonomics, only about 40% of the world's workers are engaged in their role, and one factor influencing engagement is transparency in leadership. An essential component of effective leadership is transparency. Leaders who are transparent with their team about decisions and updates build trust. Transparent communication reduces misconceptions and gives team members the knowledge to decide confidently.

17. Vision

Visionary leaders will positively impact employee performance (Yulius, 2022). Vision is the quality that helps in distinguishing managers and leaders. Visionary business leaders are hard-working and remain updated with the changes and time.

18. Creativity or Innovation

In a study by IBM with over 1,500 corporate heads and public sector leaders across 60 nations and 33 industries polled on what drives them to manage their companies, about 60% of CEOs cited creativity as the most important leadership quality. Great leaders can create new and better ideas that ensure the achievement of objectives.

19. Confidence

There is a statistically significant improvement in leadership effectiveness as leaders increase confidence. If you are unsure about your decisions and qualities, your subordinates will never follow you. Confident leaders have faith in their ability to impact their organization positively.

Related: 10 Characteristics Of Transformational Leadership

20. Influence

An influential leader greatly impacts people. Leaders accomplish their goals through influence. However, power or control should not be confused with influence. It is not about manipulating others to get your way. It involves investigating what motivates employee commitment and using that knowledge to leverage performance and positive results.

21. Courage

Research by Portland State University shows that courageous leaders help the organization better align with its core principles and give it greater focus toward a revitalized vision. Making difficult choices and taking measured risks are common requirements of leadership. Courageous leaders exhibit the capacity to deal with ambiguity and accept change. Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs is an excellent example of a courageous leader. Jobs was not afraid to disrupt the established quo and take chances.

22. Inclusivity

According to research by Harvard Business Review, teams with inclusive leaders are 17% more likely to report that they are high-performing, 20% more likely to say they make high-quality decisions, and 29% more likely to report behaving collaboratively. Leaders who cultivate an inclusive environment foster a sense of belonging and harness the diverse perspectives that drive innovation and creativity.

23. Adaptability

In this era of ever-changing business environments, adaptability is one of the most important leadership qualities. According to McKinsey, adaptable leaders often see opportunities where others perceive obstacles. Those who remain open to new ideas willing pivot in response to evolving circumstances and encourage their team to do the same, creating an environment conducive to growth and innovation. An adaptable leader responds to change and proactively looks for answers.

24. Integrity

Leadership integrity entails upholding your promises, being true to your word, and acting morally. In a survey by Forbes, integrity was rated higher than other traits associated with effective leadership, such as fairness, decisiveness, and stability. Leaders with integrity set clear expectations, communicate honestly, and reward ethical behaviour, making integrity one of the critical long-standing leadership qualities.

25. Self-awareness

Self-awareness is often defined as conscious knowledge of one's character, feelings, motives and desires. Self-awareness significantly improves employee productivity, employee motivation, and leadership effectiveness (Hartung, P. (2020). Self-awareness gives a leader the power to influence outcomes; become better decision-makers, and give them more self-confidence.

26. Fairness

A fair leader is considerate of followers; they are open-minded, honest, and trustworthy. Research by the National Institute of Occupational Health shows that fair leadership is linked to less role ambiguity and more job fulfilment among subordinates. Setting priorities and ensuring that everyone has access to what they require are essential components of fairness for effective leaders.

27. Optimism

Optimism entails a positive outlook on life and the future. According to research by The British Psychological Society, optimistic leadership is linked to employee engagement and high performance.

28. Empathy

According to a Catalyst survey of 889 employees, empathy is the most crucial quality for business leaders. Demonstrating empathy is what sets great leaders apart. Empathy as a leadership quality is vital because it can help build trust, enhance communication, and motivate employees.

29. Collaboration

According to a 2019 study, collaborative leadership and performance are positively correlated, and leaders must use this approach to improve organizational performance. No leader achieves greatness in isolation. Leaders who foster teamwork, encourage diverse perspectives and create platforms for collaboration leverage the collective strength of their team to achieve remarkable outcomes.

30. Mentorship

According to Harvard Business Review, setting boundaries and expectations, allocating time, planning meetings, and creating mentoring opportunities are all things that mentoring may assist with. Exceptional leaders are not just concerned with their success; they are invested in the growth of their team members. Mentorship involves guiding and developing the skills and careers of those under their purview.

Related: 9 Of The Greatest Leadership Books You'll Ever Read


It is important to remember that not all great leaders will possess all these qualities and that certain qualities may be more important than others, depending on the situation.

Anyone wanting to become a great leader should develop these attributes.

Chido Madzogo
This article was written by Chido a Consultant at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd

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