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Career Development

15 Leadership Qualities That Make a Great Leader

February 14, 2019

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Leadership is a skill that is used in every organization at every level. High-level executives, managers and contributors all use leadership to drive activities and projects forward. Whether you’re leading a team or a meeting, developing leadership skills that make you an effective leader is a goal you can strive for at any stage in your career.

In this article, we’ll cover the various qualities that make a great leader and ways you can improve your soft skills .

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Key leadership qualities

While there are many different qualities that can contribute to a great leader, there are a few common ones that can be helpful when developing leadership skills:

  1. Accountable: It is important that leaders hold themselves and their teams accountable for the work each are responsible for. Ownership is a key part of leadership.

  2. Courageous: Leaders must have courage in many various instances, such as correcting behavior or making unpopular decisions.

  3. Effective communicator: Communicating in a clear, positive way creates a path for the rest of the team, project or meeting you are leading.

  4. Empathetic: It is important for leaders to understand how the people around them are feeling about projects, decisions, morale and more.

  5. Flexible: Working with a team of people means tasks, goals and responsibilities will shift. A flexible leader is able to adjust and maintain ownership of the team, project or meeting at hand.

  6. Focused: Being clear on goals will help the rest of a leader’s team be efficient and focused.

  7. Humble: Great leaders admit their mistakes and elevate those around them. Humility is essential when leading a team.

  8. Innovative: Leaders should be able to develop ideas, filter the ideas of others, solve problems and complete many other tasks that require innovation and creativity.

  9. Passionate: Teams are motivated by a drive towards a common goal. The leader of this team should be passionate about said goal, creating unity among their team to work together.

  10. Patient: Mistakes, miscommunications and failures are inevitable. It is important for leaders to be patient through these times.

  11. Problem-solver: Developing problem-solving skills allows teams to move past roadblocks with minimal disruption.

  12. Resilient: Leaders must also bear the burden of pushing through to improve what they own. This might mean creating new processes, hiring new people or changing the status quo.

  13. Respectful: Great leaders treat their teams with respect, gaining respect in return.

  14. Transparent: Being open and honest makes work more efficient and enjoyable.

  15. Trusting: Leadership requires delegation–trusting their team to complete what they are assigned with excellence produces positive morale and mutual respect.

These are just a few important qualities found in great leaders. While these are all soft skills or “people skills,” having strong technical skills in your industry is also necessary when assuming a leadership position.

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How to improve your leadership skills

Learning soft skills is not as straightforward as learning technical skills. While it does take time and practice, developing qualities that make you a great leader is possible. Here are a few tips for improving your leadership skills and qualities:

  • Identify your leadership style. While you will use different leadership styles in different situations, it can be helpful to define how you want to lead your team, projects or meetings.

  • Define areas of strength and areas for improvement. Take some to consider which qualities you have already honed and which you might need to focus on. Asking for professional feedback from trusted colleagues or mentors can be help you identify strengths and weaknesses you might have missed.

  • Set goals to gain skills. Setting personal goals to improve your leadership skills by practicing qualities of great leaders can provide a focused framework. Using SMART goals allows you to improve on specific qualities that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based.

  • Find a mentor. It can be helpful to identify a person who you feel is a great leader and whose actions you’d like to imitate. Asking them to be your mentor can help you to learn from them and adopt the qualities that make them effective.

  • Be patient. Becoming a great leader can take months, years or even decades. Some people dedicate their entire lives to being great leaders. Be patient and allow yourself to make mistakes. Great leaders make many mistakes, learn from them and improve over time.

Paying attention to, honing and improving upon qualities that make you a great leader can help you on your career path. No matter your career level or industry, spending time practicing great leadership can lead to promotions and make you a competitive candidate for jobs.

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