Leadership Ideas: 25 Characteristics To Improve Leadership

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published May 25, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Effective leadership is important for any industry or organization. For a business to achieve its objectives and maintain a healthy working environment for its employees, it needs good leaders who guide their team members to success. To develop effective leadership characteristics, it is important to know what skills leaders need. In this article, we define leadership, outline 25 leadership skills and provide four activities to help you be a better leader.

Related: How To Develop Leadership Skills and Become a Great Manager

What is leadership?

Leadership means motivating others to reach goals and achieve objectives. Leaders are also often responsible for assigning and overseeing tasks while managing their own senior-level responsibilities. Through the development of leadership skills, leaders can direct projects and inspire their team to excel while still fulfilling their own duties.

Related: What Does Leadership Mean?

25 leadership ideas

Although the characteristics for effective leadership may vary by industry or even by project, many skills and qualities can benefit leaders in every workplace. Here are 25 skills, traits and ideas that can help make someone a more successful leader:

1. Professionalism

Professionalism means showing good judgment, competence and respect in the workplace. Leaders show professionalism by prioritizing respect toward their coworkers and team members, being knowledgeable about their speciality and making decisions that benefit their team and drive results.

2. Service

Leaders may take a service-oriented perspective on their position in order to develop and maintain effective relationships. It is their job to serve their team, clients, project and organization. By developing a service-oriented attitude, leaders prioritize their goals and the people they lead.

3. Courage

A leader may need to take risks to meet objectives, and they may need to be bold when confronting new challenges. When leaders take action to address challenges and obstacles, this can help demonstrate commitment to their role.

4. Generosity

One way a leader can earn respect through their generosity. Acting with generosity can include sharing your time, knowledge and experience with your associates. Making an effort to answer questions, assist with challenges and mentor less-experienced team members are all ways in which leaders can demonstrate their generosity.

5. Integrity

Leaders may need to hold themselves to a high standard of integrity so that other employees imitate their behavior. Integrity includes honesty and reliability. A leader who acts with integrity may motivate their team to adhere to similar morals, which can help boost an organization's reputation.

6. Relationships

Developing strong relationships with your team may help you establish trust with others and help your team members grow professionally. Understanding the motivations and preferences of your team members can help you make the most of their skills, as you can assign tasks and projects based on the strengths of different people.

7. Self-discipline

Self-discipline is the practice of regulating your wants to prioritize your needs. For example, a leader often prioritizes the needs of the organization and their team over their own interests or goals. This self-discipline can help them stay focused on broader business objectives.

8. Communication

Effective Leaders communicate clearly and frequently with their team. Communication helps leaders define their expectations, provide feedback on progress toward goals and request insights from others to improve their work.

Related: 21 Tips To Help You Communicate Better at Work

9. Motivation

Leaders need motivation to work toward their own goals. They also have the skills to motivate others to achieve results. Understanding the needs, interests and goals of their organization and team can help leaders encourage their employees to work toward project objectives.

10. Delegation

Part of the job of a leader is to assign tasks to members of their team. To delegate tasks effectively, leaders need to know the skills and abilities of their team members and choose the right members for the right tasks.

11. Positivity

Having a positive attitude can contribute to effective leadership , as this helps maintain a pleasant work environment. Even in challenging circumstances, maintaining a positive attitude can improve your confidence and resilience. Additionally, approaching complicated tasks with a positive attitude may help you manage obstacles and inspire your team to work through challenges.

12. Innovation

A leader may need to be creative and innovative in order to solve complex problems. Through creative thinking, leaders can find new perspectives that help them generate new ideas.

Related: Creativity in the Workplace: Characteristics and Examples

13. Feedback

Delivering and receiving feedback are important aspects of leadership, as this aids both the leader's personal development and the development of their employees. Leaders may need to assess the performance of their team and communicate feedback on their progress. Additionally, effective leaders often seek feedback on their own performance to improve their work.

14. Responsibility

Leaders accept mistakes and seek solutions for problems that arise when leading a team, which demonstrates responsibility. Although projects are often a group effort, it is the leaders who hold themselves accountable for achieving goals and producing results.

15. Commitment

A leader can show commitment and dependability by following through on promises, setting a good example for others and complying with expectations. Commitment is valuable in the workplace because it may help leaders develop trust with their team.

16. Flexibility

It is important for leaders to have the flexibility to adapt to new situations, as workplaces and departments often encounter some type of change. New situations could include implementing new processes or developing new job positions as a team expands.

17. Growth

Leaders may look for opportunities to grow their skills and the skills of their team. Having a growth mindset can help leaders find alternative ways to develop theirs and their team's performance abilities.

18. Inspiration

Strong leaders often inspire their team by connecting with them personally and encouraging them to succeed. Some ways to inspire employees include recognizing accomplishments, supporting them through challenges and modeling expectations.

19. Originality

Having originality can help leaders differentiate themselves from others. Actively looking for new solutions or challenging yourself to innovate beyond standard expectations can demonstrate your originality.

20. Passion

Leaders often succeed when they feel passionate about their work. Identifying which part of the work makes you most enthusiastic can help you communicate this passion to others. Additionally, understanding the value of your work can help motivate your efforts.

21. Respect

Leaders can demonstrate respect for their team by acknowledging their abilities and accomplishments while understanding their needs and working to meet them. It's also helpful to practice approaching other professional relationships with respect, such as those with clients and other managers.

22. Collaboration

Leaders often need to work effectively with others to meet objectives. Collaboration can include working with team members, other leaders, clients and supervisors. Leaders can also model good teamwork practices by directly taking part in group activities.

23. Trust

While many leaders work to earn the trust of their team, it is equally important for them to show they trust their team by allowing team members to make decisions based on their expertise. Teams may become unmotivated if they feel their leaders do not trust their capabilities.

24. Expectations

Establishing clear expectations helps leaders communicate their vision to their team. Leaders may also need to reflect on their personal expectations for themselves to make sure they are realistic and achievable. Setting goals and identifying behaviors, actions and attitudes that benefit the team and project can help leaders determine their expectations.

25. Perspective

Leaders often gather multiple perspectives on a task or situation in order to determine the best course of action. By considering several perspectives, leaders gain a more comprehensive understanding of the situation, which can help them make more effective decisions.

Activities to improve your leadership

Here are four activities for you and your team that may help improve communication, develop relationships and advance your leadership skills:

Leadership interview

Find a community leader who you admire and set up an interview. Ask them about their leadership style, how they developed their leadership skills and what experiences influenced their leadership. This activity can be a good way of meeting other leaders in your community and finding inspiration to improve your own leadership.

Active listening

Prepare a list of problem or question statements and divide your team into groups of three. Within each group, assign one member to be the subject, one to be the listener and the third to be the observer. Then propose one question or problem at a time. The subject talks through potential solutions to the problem while the listener practices active listening skills and the observer watches the interaction. This activity may help your team develop active listening skills by having them apply these abilities in a structured setting.

Team purpose

With this activity, your team works together to define the goals, values, attitudes and actions they want to strive for in their work. By letting the team help set expectations for the project, you encourage them to think about what actions they can individually take to support the work. Producing a shared vision for the project may help your team feel focused and cohesive.

Leadership envelopes

This activity works best with a group of leaders working to develop their leadership skills. Divide the participants into teams of three to seven members. Each team receives an index card with a leadership principle written on it. Set a timer for three minutes and have each team discuss a practical scenario where they could apply the leadership principle. Once the time runs out, each team presents their scenario to the large group for discussion. The leadership envelopes activity encourages leaders to think about how abstract concepts apply to on-the-job scenarios.

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