Leadership Qualities: 12 Skills That Make A Good Leader
John Quincy Adams said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.” So, essentially, to be a great leader you must be able to influence others.
This is exactly what leadership expert and best-selling author John C. Maxwell also defines leadership as; ‘influence’. In his book, Becoming A Person Of Influence Maxwell writes that leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts, but about one life influencing another.
One thing that all definers and definitions of leadership agree on though is that there are certain common qualities and skills that make a good leader. Many of these may be inherent characteristics, but they can also be taught and learnt as skills.
However, before we talk about these leadership qualities and skills, let’s get a clearer idea about what leadership is exactly.
What Is Leadership?
One definition of leadership says that it is the ability of an individual or organization to lead people, teams or even organizations to achieve their goals and objectives. It involves maximizing efficiency and reaching strategic and organizational targets.
Thus, leaders must be able to motivate, guide, build morale and initiate action. Therefore, the qualities that make a good leader are traits that help achieve these goals.
Top Skills That Make A Good Leader
There are many skills that make for good leadership and every person has a unique combination of these skills. However, there are 12 common ones that can be counted as the top skills that make a good leader. They are as follows:
- Honesty And Integrity:
Honesty is a life skill. But it is also a leadership skill because if you cannot be honest with your people, how can you expect them to be honest with you? Integrity is honesty to yourself, which is the most important form of honesty there is. Moreover, honesty and integrity build trust, which is extremely important in both work and life relationships.
Confidence in yourself and your ideas inspires others to trust and follow you. That makes confidence an important leadership skill. Even if you’re not sure of yourself, as a leader you must not show it, or your subordinates will not follow you. This does not mean that you must be overconfident, just that you must reflect a certain amount of confidence to keep the confidence of your team.
- Being An Inspiration To Others:
Being able to inspire other people is one of the most important qualities of a successful leader. Optimism and positivity are necessary aspects to make the above possible. Additionally, how you handle difficult situations can also be a source of inspiration for your subordinates. Thus, staying calm and motivated under pressure is always looked up to.
- Commitment And Passion:
As a leader, if you show your commitment and passion towards your team, they will reciprocate it. For example, if they see that you are willing to work alongside them instead of just ordering them to do something, they will be more likely to give their task their best shot as well. Doing this also inspires loyalty and respect towards you in your team members.
- Good Communication Skills:
Good communication skills are essential to become a good leader. A leader has to be able to clearly communicate their vision, goals, and strategy to get the results they are looking for. Moreover, words are powerful motivators, and when used correctly can inspire people to do things they didn’t think they could before.
- Decision-Making Skills:
Decision making is a crucial skill for leadership. A leader’s decision could affect a lot of people. Therefore, it is important that leaders take their time, and consider all pros and cons before making a decision. As a leader, it is also often advisable to consult the key stakeholders that will be affected by your decision before you take it.
Mistakes can happen to anyone, even leaders. To be a good leader though you must be able to take responsibility for your mistakes and even those of your subordinates when dealing with people outside your team. Arnold Glasgow said the following words that clearly explains the relationship between accountability and leaders; “A good leader takes a little more than his share of the blame and little less than his share of credit.”
An effective leader must focus on key responsibilities while their subordinates do the rest. This means that the leader must be able to delegate the right tasks to the right people and maximize team performance. When a leader micromanages, there will be a lack of trust between the members of the team and the leader. Moreover, the leader won’t be able to focus on their own tasks well enough either.
- Creativity And Innovation:
Out-of-the-box thinking and innovation are really the only way to move forward in our current world. A good leader recognizes this. In fact, as Steve Jobs explains it, the ability to innovate is what distinguishes leaders from followers. Additionally, apart from following their own ideas through, a good leader also allows and motivates others to do the same.
Empathy is the ability to put yourself in another’s shoes and understand what they are going through. This is an important skill for a leader that enables them to connect with their team better and offer advice and encouragement as necessary. Thus, with empathy, a leader can nurture their team, and understand their points of view better, even if they may not agree with them.
Resilience is the ability to bounce back from adversity. Staying positive and being able to handle themselves in any good or bad situation is a necessary skill for a good leader. Resilient leaders retain their energy levels under strain, and respond to and overcome disruptions and challenges without losing their cool or hurting others.
- Emotional Intelligence:
Emotional Intelligence is the ability to identify, manage and understand your own emotions and thoughts along with those of others. Emotionally intelligent leaders are self-aware, empathetic, and can self-regulate and motivate, and have great social skills. Thus, emotionally intelligent leaders manage emotions better, have good social awareness and great communication skills. Moreover, they are also great at conflict resolution.
To conclude, great leaders are not born but made! Provided they take some time to develop the above set of skills.